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Workers Testify to Candidates About Need for $15 Minimum Wage in NC

Jeremy Sprinkle
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"We have an epidemic of poverty in the richest country on earth."

Raising Wages NC–a growing coalition of labor groups, advocates, business, and faith leaders seeking to raise the state minimum wage to $15/hr–held a public hearing at First Baptist Church in downtown Raleigh tonight to bring together dozens of workers and allies from across the state to testify directly to candidates for Governor and the North Carolina General Assembly about what life is like for a working person in North Carolina and the importance of adopting a $15/hr minimum wage statewide for all workers. 

Read media coverage of this event:

Testifiers at the hearing asserted that a good job with fair wages is the right of all working people–including domestic workers, farmworkers, disabled workers, and tipped workers who have historically been denied the full protection of state and federal minimum wage laws. Elected officials and candidates listened and briefly responded to testimonies. Participants pushed candidates to publicly state their position on raising the state minimum wage.

“Minimum wage was intended to be a living wage,” said Sara Fearrington, a Durham Waffle House worker and member of the Fight for $15 and a Union. “But today, in North Carolina in 2020, $7.25 is nowhere near a living wage. $15 per hour is the actual minimum wage that workers like me need to cover the bare necessities.” 

The public hearing comes at a pivotal time as one-stop early voting begins in statewide primary elections on March 3rd. Raising wages will be a central issue in the 2020 elections. North Carolina’s minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25/hr for over a decade while costs of living continue to climb–the longest period of stagnation since the creation of a federal minimum in the 1930s. In January 2020, 21 US states raised the minimum wage, but North Carolina was not one of them. Southern workers–white, black, and brown alike–are being left behind. This hearing shed light on the experiences of low-wage workers and what an increased minimum wage would mean for real people working in North Carolina.

“The conditions we live and work under are set by those in power, and working people have the power to rewrite the rules by raising the minimum wage and protecting our freedom to join together,” said state AFL-CIO president MaryBe McMillan. “This is a fight for a better future in the state we are proud to call our home.”

"We have an epidemic of poverty wages in the richest country in the world."

— NC State AFL-CIO (@NCStateAFLCIO) February 13, 2020

"$15 is a minimum requirement in this day and age, just to cover the basic cost of living. $15 an hour, just to be able to provide for my family, is not a lot to ask."

"It’s what we need to live like damn human beings! "
– Sara F., #Durham tipped-worker.

— Raise Up For $15 (@RaiseUpfor15) February 14, 2020

Tonight I attended the #Fightfor15 & @NCStateAFLCIO’s Raising Wages Hearing. I appreciated the opportunity to hear from community leaders and workers.

It’s unacceptable that so many people work and don’t get paid enough to afford even their basic needs. NC deserves a raise!

— Rep. Allison Dahle (@AllisonDahle) February 14, 2020