Victory! The minimum wage in Atlanta is being raised to $15/hour for city workers after a city council meeting that happened recently. The minimum wage will rise over time according to the new ordinance, going up to $ 13 this year, $14 next year, and eventually $15 in 2019.
The Mayor of Atlanta still has to sign it but the signs are looking good that the people of Atlanta can look forward to getting paid more in the years to come, and this is a huge victory for the Fight for 15 campaign and Jobs with Justice in Atlanta.
The coalition coordinator from Atlanta Jobs with Justice, Neil Sardana had this to say about the victory:
“Now with this vote, city workers can see a brighter future that provides for their basic needs, especially as the cost of living in the city has been rapidly increasing.”
And Executive Director of Atlanta Jobs with Justice, Shannan Reaze, said this:
“Let this victory tell all working people that we must continue our fight for progressive values and our community’s needs in spite of the recent surge in conservative ideology.”
This victory under a progressive government in Atlanta is in stark contrast to the people who live in Georgia, which is under harsh conservative Republican control. Conservatives have kept the statewide minimum wage at one of the lowest in the country at $5.15.
Let’s put that in perspective with some math – $5.15 an hour is like $200 bucks a week. That’s $800 dollars a month, which is $9,888 a year. And that’s before they take out taxes, which is like $50 bucks a week, so you’re really making like $7 thousand dollars a year.
Could you live on that? Could you raise a family on that? There’s no one that can live on that, it’s not a living wage.
That means in Georgia, you can work a full-time job but not be able to pay the bills, put food on the table, and provide for your family… And people should have a little bit left over to enjoy life too by the way. So what does a person do when you make so little money that you can’t live on it? How do you get by?
Here’s what that sounds like when it’s real – a real living human being:
Yeah, that struggle is real. You work two or three jobs, your wife or your partner works works two or three jobs, and since you’ve never home to watch your kids, you have to pay for daycare then and that’s more money out the door. And you’re working every day of the week, all the time, never seeing your family, and never doing anything that you want to do.
That’s slavery capitalism. It’s putting working people in the position where they have no control over their lives and no purchasing power in the economy. It’s a bad deal in a rigged economy and it should be illegal, like Chris Rock once said,
But that’s why we need campaigns like Fight for 15 and progressives in public office like in Atlanta, because conservative Republicans like at the statehouse in Georgia don’t believe that people who work 40 hours a week should be able to pay their bills. They even passed a law at the state level which prevents local municipal governments from raising the minimum wage for private sector workers without approval from the state.
Conservatives want to subsidize the wages of companies like Walmart, which has a hotline that helps their employees get on welfare, instead of paying them what they’re worth and reciprocating their value back to them in their wages. It’s predator capitalism at it’s worst, sucking off the teet of the government, while dodging their taxes, and underpaying their employees and in all likelihood mistreating them in other ways too.
But small local businesses who invest in their employees by paying them what their worth and giving them benefits they need then have to compete with these corporate goliaths who cheat the system in every possible way. It’s wrong, it’s immoral, and it’s bad for the economy.
So we need to be fighting for 15 everywhere around the country, like where we’ve already won a $15 minimum wage in places like New York, Seattle, Los Angeles, Massachusetss, Pittsburgh, Portland, and Washington DC. And in the places where they raised people’s wages, the economy is booming… because obviously if people have more money to spend, they’re going to kickstart the economy.
It appears that when it comes to raising the minimum wage, good public policy is good politics and good fro the lives of people too.