De Blasio needs to focus on a living wage
Jan 23, 2014 | 14610 views | 0 0 comments | 905 905 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Calls for equality and civil liberties have only gotten louder since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s, and on Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2014, the crowds of low-income workers and the job insecure continued to voice their concerns.

In Brooklyn, crowds persisted in their calls for job security at Stuyvesant’s Interfaith Medical Center in an effort to prevent the hospital from becoming the next outer borough health facility to close.

Employees fought to keep their positions as unemployment rates in the city have climbed to nearly 8.9 percent as of Oct. 2013, according the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics.

That number was near 5 percent in 2008.

While some were fighting to keep their jobs, thousands of employed 32BJ SEIU members rallied with elected officials at LaGuardia and JFK airports on the same day for higher wages, health insurance and a fair shot at the American Dream.

Reports show that over 400,000 people in New York City were making at or below the poverty line in 2012, or an estimated 1 in 10 currently employed workers.

Additionally, U.S. Census data from 2012 illustrates a steady rise in poverty levels from 20.1 percent in 2010, to 20.9 percent in 2011 and 21.2 percent in 2012, or approximately 1.7 million New Yorkers.

As workers and numerous elected officials were carried away in handcuffs during the protest for blocking a ramp to LaGuardia Airport, the images seemed indicative of a tale told a little over 50 years ago when King, Jr. and hundreds of thousands looking for equal rights gathered in Washington, D.C.

In response to struggles of the full-time working class, some often working multiple jobs and who still cannot afford to feed their families, elected officials should not settle with the recent $.75 cent minimum wage increase to $8 an hour.

In addition to their focus on transportation safety and paid sick leave benefits, the de Blasio Administration should move to increase the minimum wage to keep these hard-working New Yorkers off of public assistance and out of poverty.

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