7 Days @ Minimum Wage

How healthy is minimum wage?  

7 Days @ Minimum Wage: ‘Breaking My Back for $35’

by James Parks, Oct 20, 2006

Video: At the end of the day I’m looking at $35 and pretty much broke my back. The minimum wage is just too low. Gas and food and housing, everything is going up and the minimum wage is staying the same. No, that’s not right.

Describing his exhausting jobs as a laborer working near the minimum wage, Paul Greg Valdez premieres with his partner, Susan Windham, in the first installment of “7 Days at Minimum Wage.” The Oct. 23–30 video blog (vlog) event, sponsored by the AFL-CIO and ACORN, features interviews with seven workers describing life at or near the federal minimum wage, which has been frozen at $5.15 an hour since 1997 (see excerpt of first vlog at left).

The AFL-CIO union movement has spearheaded America Needs a Raise campaign to raise the minimum wage at the state and federal level. The campaign has provided momentum to put the issue of raising the minimum wage on the Nov. 7 ballot in six states: Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Nevada and Ohio. (Congress will be in session for a few days after Nov. 7. Tell your lawmakers: It’s time for a real vote to raise the minimum wage. Send an e-mail here.)

Valdez, who makes $6.25 an hour, has been the sole support for the couple since Windham was hurt in an accident and is unable to work. In the video, Windham says the real issue surrounding the minimum wage is respect for working people.

Let’s respect the backbone of America—who are working hard to keep it together. They’re just as important as the computer wizard.

Actress and comedienne Roseanne Barr is hosting the video blog (vlog), which can be reached at http://sevendaysatminimumwage.org/ and at YouTube.com beginning Oct. 23. Barr, a former waitress in Utah, says she became hooked on the minimum wage issue when she campaigned in Florida in 2004 to increase that state’s minimum hourly wage by $1. In her opening to the first day of the vlog, Barr says it’s outrageous

to expect anyone to live on $5.15 an hour and equally outrageous that the minimum wage hasn’t been raised in 10 years.

Republican leaders in Congress prevented—yet again—any increase in the nation’s minimum wage this year, but the AFL-CIO and working families plan to keep pushing for a new law in the next Congress. Ten years after Congress approved the last raise, the federal minimum buys less than it did in 1951.


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