A national effort supporting an increase to the minimum wage is coming through Louisville this week.
The multi-state “Raise the Wage” bus tour is meant to pressure members of Congress to support a bill raising the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.
Raising the rate is a key issue for Democrats such as U.S. Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes, whose campaign confirmed with WFPL that she plans to join the tour in Louisville.
Republican incumbent Mitch McConnell has said such a hike would be a job killer, but organizers are hoping that their lobbying efforts can change even the hardest mindsets against the idea.
“Senator McConnell has 30 years in the Senate so he definitely has some influence. We believe if by chance Sen. McConnell were to support raising the minimum wage that would have a huge effect,” says Kentucky Jobs With Justice leader Bonafacio Aleman. “We’ll be focusing not just on Sen. McConnell but we’ll also be focusing on the general public because one of the things we want to do is try to engage the public to grassroots lobby saying, ‘hey, it’s time we raised the wage in America.’”
Liberal activists, faith leaders and elected officials spearheading the proposal will be picked up at 4 p.m. Tuesday with the first stop planned for a United Auto Workers union hall. Later that afternoon there will be a rally outside Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer’s office, scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
Opponents of the $10.10 hourly rate argue that such legislation could cost the U.S. 500,000 jobs, according to a congressional budget analysis. The budget report acknowledges those are estimates, which range from “very slight” to 1 million job losses.
Still, proponents point out that such a wage hike would lift 900,000 people out of poverty and get many Americans off of government assistance.
“Whether you’re a Democrat or a Republican, should you not be for the average American to make more than $7 an hour,” asks Todd Dunn, president of the UAW Local 862, which represents over 9,000 workers.
“I can only see that the increase of minimum wage is going to allow us to have a little bit more dignity and spend a little bit more money to be able to treat everyone on a fairer playing field to be able to go out and buy goods and services without having to look at the government and ask for subsidies.”
The tour has already visited several other major U.S. cities including Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Chicago in this past week.