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Organization Raises Awareness To Increase Minimum Wage PDF Print E-mail
Written by Diana Martinez   
Thursday, 06 March 2014 03:41

The non-profit group, Organizing for Action, OFA, gathered in front of the Amelia Earhart statue in North Hollywood, Thursday, March 6. Coinciding with Women's History Month, the organization held a rally to raise awareness for women who work but are the largest segment of the nation's "working poor."

Similar rallies were held across the country on the same day. Members of OFA said they gathered in the San Fernando Valley and nationwide to tell Congress that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 “is the right thing to do.”

Currently, 2/3 of those working at the minimum wage pay scale are women earn only 77 cents for every dollar a man earns, [$7.25 is the current federal minimum wage; in the state of California $8 is the current state minimum wage]. Standing in front of the Earhart statue, Attorney Susan Woon-Borrison, a resident of Granada Hills, spoke of the disparity between female and male workers.

“The minimum wage has just not kept up with the cost of living and many women work fulltime but still struggle to make ends meet.” "It's just not right," Woon- Borrison said, "Just look at it from a basic level; if you work all day earning minimum wage and try to fill your gas tank you just can't.

With the take home pay after deductions, how can a family survive with paying their rent, bills, going to the grocery store and child care?” Almost two-thirds of minimum wage workers are women, Woon-Borrinson, noted.

“Women are increasingly the primary breadwinners in their families and face so many obstacles. I can't fathom how this is done on minimum wage, I see children of working mom's who take public transportation to go to my daughters school and I know some of them haven't had breakfast and are too ashamed of the stigma of a school lunch to accept one,” she said.

Workers who have lost their jobs, and older workers who have difficulty landing a job coupled with employers downsizing and opting for cheaper labor have increased the numbers of people who now find themselves in the pool of minimum wage earners. These kinds of cases are understood by Woon-Borrison, who said she knows first hand how difficult it is to cope with hardship.

Although she and her husband Craig are attorneys, they faced financial insecurity and the loss of employment after she was diagnosed with cervical cancer that later metastasized into her lungs. “We didn't know how we were going to pay our bills and put food on our table. If it weren't for the generosity and support of friends and family, I don't know how we would have made it.”

Raising daughters she is also keenly aware that they will go into a workforce that expects equal work but doesn't offer equal pay for women. “I worry about what kind of world we are leaving for them.”

Borrison with other members of the organization point out that those who are most vulnerable are minimum wage workers who earn just $14,500 working full-time. Even when factoring in relief from programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit, a family of four supported by that salary still falls below the poverty line.

The organization supports President Obama's action to raise the wages of federal contractors by executive action and has called on Congress to follow suit and pass the Harkin-Miller bill, which would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

"The Harkin- Miller bill would offset some of that pressure and I think that there has to be some sort of concerted effort to ask why so many people are working at minimum wage and why there is so much disparity between the wages of men and women. I think starting with the minimum wage is a good place to start to address these issues, "Woon-Borrison said. "If you work fulltime in America, you shouldn't have to live in poverty.”