Hundreds rally across Midtown for higher wages


Hundreds gathered at Theis Park Wednesday afternoon as part of nationwide rallies supporting higher wages for workers in low-paying jobs.

“Our time is now,” said Terrence Wise, an organizer who said he has been a fast-food worker for 17 years.

He spoke to people sprawled across a park hillside, many with signs or shirts promoting the cause.

They are not necessarily asking for hikes in minimum wage laws, he said, but they are demanding that rich companies pay wages of at least $15 an hour and allow unions.

james-at-minwage-rallyMayor Sly James told people to vote: “You cannot get the people out of office who are doing this to you unless you vote them out.”

Citizens don’t have the money to compete with rich businesses and their hired lobbyists, he said, but they do have the numbers.

“Low paying jobs don’t mean low life people,” he said. “It is inexplicable that we all live in the richest most powerful country in the world and people work 40 hours a week and cannot feed their families.”

Jeff Wright, president of United Auto Workers local 249, also urged voting.

“The same people who don’t want you to get a living wage are the same people who don’t want you to vote,” he said.

He also urged people to join unions to get some justice from business bosses who think of them as almost subhuman.

“If you get a little bit of power,” he said, “you get a little bit of justice.”

The Rev. Susan McCann, of Grace Episcopal Church in Liberty, said the nationwide movement has already prompted minimum wage hikes in 15 cities and 23 states, as well as small wage increases by some major corporations.

“These raises aren’t enough and they affect only a small percentage of employees,” she said.

The movement for higher wages is about promoting a moral economy, she said.

James said, “Let’s hold together, let’s work together, let’s fight the same fight – let’s vote.”

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