5:00pm: MEC Women U. Charleston v. Alderson Broaddus

Should the minimum wage be raised?

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Thousands of fast food workers across the United States are uniting to continue the call for a higher minimum wage and the ability to unionize.

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour or about $15,000 a year for full-time work.  On Thursday, those workers and labor organizers took to the streets in 100 cities.

“Right now, the minimum wage workers earn less than $300 a week.  No matter where you live, that’s just not enough money to make ends meet,” said Ted Boettner, executive director of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy.

In New York City, workers want a $15 hourly rate.

In West Virginia, Boettner said an $8 an hour to $9 an hour minimum wage would make sense.

“This is about people who show up everyday and work hard so their company can make a profit.  At the very least, they deserve to be able to pay their bills,” he said on Thursday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”

He estimated 90 percent of West Virginians currently making minimum wage are over the age of 20.

“Raising the minimum wage puts money in the pockets of hard-working West Virginians who will spend it on the things they need.  This will not only generate more business for our economy and ease the load on taxpayers, it will help businesses retain their employees,” said Boettner.

At least one location in Kanawha County, in Charleston, was part of Thursday’s national effort.  Workers in Pittsburgh, Pa. were also involved.

Officials with the National Restaurant Association dismissed Thursday’s protests as “a campaign engineered by national labor groups.”

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has promised a vote in the U.S. Senate on an increase to the minimum wage, possibly taking it to $10.10, before the end of the year.  Republicans leaders in the U.S. House oppose it.





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