POUGHKEEPSIE – Labor organizations from around the country, in 270 cities, held coordinated events Tuesday to rally for a national $15 per hour minimum wage. Members and supporters of the Local 1199 SEIU gathered outside Poughkeepsie’s McDonald’s on Main Street, where they started their push back in April, to declare to the public that anything less than $15 per hour is not a livable wage by today’s standards.
Despite poor weather, many showed up Tuesday to the rally in support the cause.
Fast food was a target in Poughkeepsie, and many other locations across
the nation where similar protests were held
Protestor in Kingston
Joseph Stratford, political organizer for the 1199 SEIU, said they are behind Governor Cuomo’s announced $15 per hour minimum wage for all state works and they hope it will gain national support.
Beth Soto, executive director for the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation, said this is not a union-centric issue and that the public needs to be able to make that distinction.
“The people here are dedicated to raising the living wage and it’s not a union issue and I think people have to understand that; this is for every worker and this is for the future of our country too,” said Soto. “The children that are going to school, they need to have a better future; they need to be able to afford education, they need to be able to pay for certain things; so, we’ve got to raise the wage.”
Malcolm O’Lacker, a certified nursing assistant at the Pine Hill
Nursing Home, who is under the $15 an hour wage, agrees with Soto and
believes financial struggle within the household is causing children to
“What we need is a living wage of $15 an hour so that, for instance, mothers won’t have to depend on welfare to feed their children and they can spend more time with their children, bringing up their children the way the need to be raised because if the children have to raise themselves, that’s why we have so much crime and $15 an hour will afford them that opportunity,” said O’Lacker.
Workers are not just concerned for the community youths either; a trend has been occurring where municipal health care facilities are being bought by private entities. Supporters of the $15 minimum wage are concerned that these private investors are putting profits before care and that the workers at these, now privately owned facilities are struggling to provide the level of patient care that should be expected.