Ralph Nader, Worker Advocates Protest at AFL and Chamber, Call for a Raise in Minimum Wage

Ralph Nader and a group of about a dozen worker advocates took the streets in front of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and then the AFL-CIO to call for a raise in the minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour to $10.50 — which is what workers were being paid in 1968, inflation adjusted.

Holding signs that read: “End Wage Slavery,” “Big Bosses Stomp on 30 Million Workers,” and “$10.50 Minimum Wage, Catch up with 1968!,” the protesters made the case that the Chamber should drop its opposition to — and the AFL should turbocharge its campaign to pass — a $10.50 an hour minimum wage — up from the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

“There are thirty million American workers working today who are making less in purchasing power than workers made in 1968,” Nader said in front of the Chamber. “And this Chamber of Commerce is headed by Tom Donohue, who makes $1,200 a hour, not counting benefits and perks. And the Chamber is opposing a raise in the minimum wage. And when they oppose it, the White House is silent. President Obama hasn’t spoken out for catching up with a 1968 minimum wage.”

“We have the lowest minimum wage of any western country,” Nader said. “In Ontario, it’s $10.25. In France, it’s $11.00 or more. In Australia, it’s almost $16. Here, it’s $7.25. And in all of those other countries, they have universal health insurance. What’s wrong with this country?”

“Shame on the Chamber of Commerce,” Nader said. “Shame on the AFL-CIO. Shame on President Obama. And shame on the Congress.”
After a half hour of chanting in front of the Chamber, the group moved around the corner to the AFL-CIO headquarters where Nader and the group sang Happy Birthday to labor leader John L. Lewis, who was born on February 12 in 1880.

They handed out free copies of a book called by former AFL-CIO President John Sweeney titled — America Needs a Raise.

And they passed out a fact sheet on raising the minimum wage.

“We’re here in part to celebrate the memory of a real fighter for workers — John L. Lewis,” Nader said.

“Lewis was eventually succeeded by Richard Trumka. Richard Trumka should be a fighter, the way Lewis was.”

“The AFL-CIO is not fighting hard to put resources on Congress and the White House to get 30 million a raise from $7.25 to $10.50 an hour. There are 30 million workers today in the USA being paid less today than workers were being paid 45 years ago in 1968. What a shame.”

“And who do they have working for them and fighting for them? Not members of Congress. Not President Obama.”

“Aren’t they entitled to have the AFL-CIO, headed by Richard Trumka, a former coal miner and former head of the United Mine Workers of America to really fight for them? Not just put words on the web site of the AFL-CIO. That’s cheap talk. But send lobbyists up there. Picket the White House. Picket the Congress. Pressure each member of Congress. Get the locals and the unions to put the heat on from back home. Seventy percent of the people want an minimum age adjusted for inflation. It’s just fair play.”

“Washington is not representing anybody but Wall Street and Walmart and McDonalds,” Nader said. “It’s time for Richard Trumka to step up, stop giving lip service, and put his muscle behind a $10.50 minimum wage.”

“We are an advanced Third World county. Unless organized labor steps up, and organizes more, and gets out of their offices, and stops making speeches, and really roll up their muscles and put it behind the millions of workers who can’t even earn what they earned in 1968, inflation adjusted, they ought to let others take their place.”

Nader has put up his own website on the issue.

It’s called — timeforaraise.org.

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