On January 24, Raising wages WNC(a regional coalition affiliated with the larger statewide coalition) had a discussion panel at the Asheville chapter of Standing Up for Racial Justice monthly public meeting called “accountability through action.” This month’s discussion was centered on the class character of racism and white supremacy.The panel of four speakers discussed their experiences working in a state that has the same minimum wage as the federal requirement.
Julia McDowell (Justfolks and JustEconomics board member), spoke about living life “check to check” at only $9 dollars an hour. She explained that she has a family and that a $15 minimum wage would not only help to make ends meet, but would give her more time for family and to organize.
Max Reed (Party for Socialism and Liberation, and the People’s Congress of Resistance), spoke about what it is like to work construction in a “right to work” state, saying that he “has never seen a job-site that would pass an OSHA inspection.” He explained the subcontractor loop-hole where employers sign up workers under a 1099 tax form, deeming them self-employed thus lifting most liabilities and benefits like overtime pay and healthcare.
Vicki Meath (executive director of JustEconomics), gave a presentation on how the increase of cost of living with little to no change in pay has affected workers, showing that adjusted to inflation the minimum wage is lower than in 1968. She also showed that if you account for the increase in productivity, the 1968 minimum wage would be over $20 today.
Emma (a high-school student and activist with Carolina Jews for Justice), spoke about what liberation and fair/living wages means in the Jewish faith. She also spoke about how students can’t survive off of minimum wage, and how her college loans for the schools she is looking at will put her close to $300,000 in debt.
The group talked about the role that global capitalism and imperialism has played in the development of white supremacy. How is the oppression faced by nationally oppressed groups in the U.S. caused by the same global system that oppresses Palestine, Africa, Asia, as well as South and Central America? People made sure not to leave out the role that organizing and struggling in the streets will play in winning this uphill battle.
Raising Wages WNC is planning a Workers Assembly scheduled for February 27, from 5:30-8:30pm at Congregation Beth HaTephila (43 N Liberty St. Asheville, N.C.) where organizers are going to draft a plan of action to develop worker power here at home and over turn the system.
All workers and progressive people should come out and support this drive and build worker power; the bosses will not do it for us. Raising the minimum wage is an achievable goal we can work on right now as part of the fight for a more just society. We need to fight not only to raise to the minimum wage, but for the constitutional right to a job, to a house and to healthcare and education. We are the working class, we produce ALL of the goods we consume and the services we require, and we produce enough for all to have access to a healthy life. Get involved!