Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Ohioans for a Fair Minimum Wage files ballot petitions

Dr. Rev. Eric Brown addresses crowd

From the press release:

Supporters of Minimum-Wage Increase File Petitions,
Call Current Wage an “Injustice”

Columbus, Ohio – A throng of supporters for an initiative to increase Ohio’s minimum wage gathered at the Statehouse today to rally for a raise. The rally was followed by a march to the Ohio Secretary of State’s office where petitions were filed to place the minimum-wage increase on the November ballot.

Dr. Eric Brown, Pastor at Woodland Christian Church in Columbus, Ohio, derided the current minimum wage of $5.15, which has stayed at or below that rate for over ten years. He explained that a full-time, minimum-wage earner in Ohio makes $10,712 a year, which is nearly $3,000 below the federal poverty standards for a family of two. “Paying a hard-working, single mom nearly $3,000 less than the established mark of poverty is an injustice,” said Dr. Brown.

Other initiative supporters spoke from experience about the challenges faced by low-wage earners.

“Healthcare coverage is out of the question when you work for minimum wage,” said Shannon Spradlin. “My husband and I both work full time and we still can’t afford it. When we get sick, we have to make a hard choice between going to the hospital and getting help, or waiting it out and hoping it just goes away.”

Tim Burga of the Ohio AFL-CIO and Co-Chair of Ohioans for a Fair Minimum Wage said that over 700,000 signatures were filed at the Secretary of State’s office and that he fully expects this amendment to be on the ballot this fall. Burga went on to say that, “after ten long years of holding the minimum wage at $5.15 per hour, the need for this constitutional amendment has never been greater.”

The ballot initiative seeks to amend the Ohio Constitution to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $6.85 per hour, beginning in January, 2007. The wage will then adjust annually for inflation based on the Consumer Price Index.

“The time has come to take politics out of this issue and put the minimum wage into the Ohio Constitution. Doing so with annual adjustments for inflation will ensure that the minimum wage will always keep pace with the cost of living and prevent anyone from playing politics with this important issue ever again,” said Burga.

Ohioans for a Fair Minimum Wage
, a coalition of non-profit, community, faith-based, civil rights and labor organizations, is supporting this issue. The coalition, which is co-chaired by the Ohio AFL-CIO, Ohio State Senator CJ Prentiss, and ACORN Ohio, filed more than double the number of signatures required to place the issue on the ballot.

Looking ahead to the campaign, Burga said, “We must pass this minimum wage increase to help lift many hard-working Ohioans out of poverty—to help other low-wage workers and ensure that inflation never again erodes the value of their paychecks.”

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