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Somerville, MA, June 17, 2014 – Somerville residents were among the hundreds of demonstrators who headed to Boston on June 12to demand for a $15 an hour minimum
“I’m here today because low pay is not okay,” said Somerville resident Rand Wilson, also the Communication and Policy Director for Service Employees International (SEIU) Union 888 in Charlestown. “Anybody making less than fifteen dollars an hour on the job, that’s a crime. Nobody should be paid wages you can’t live on.”
The rally – organized by the Wage Action Coalition, which includes SEIU and Jobs with Justice – came just weeks after Seattle, WA, raised its minimum wage to fifteen dollars. Wage Action Coalition also organized marches in Worcester and Springfield.
Low wage workers like taxi drivers, fast food workers and airport employees, and their supporters; all showed they are in the “fight for fifteen” with posters, banners, speeches and music.
“Somerville is a city of immigrant workers,” Somerville resident and retired truck driver Greg Gigg told Somerville Neighborhood News. “It’s the workers at the lower end just coming into our society that are struggling, dealing with rotten employers, making minimum wage or being cheated of their wages, those are the workers who really do need our support.”
Another Somerville resident, Emily Hardt, said she came to support the fight for a higher wage but also because she believes “Somerville is a microcosm of our whole country and what’s been happening across the country with the increasing gap between the rich and the poor.”
“I think it’s really important that we close that gap and that will make a better quality of life for everyone,” Hardt said.
The rally was followed by a march to local employers like Wendy’s and Legal Sea Foods, which pay minimum wage or only slightly higher.
The rally and march came only a few days before the Massachusetts Legislature approved a hike in the minimum hourly wage, from eight to nine dollars on January 1, 2015; to $10 a year later and then to $11 by Jan. 1, 2017.