Low Wage Worker Battlegrounds

New Orleans        We are on the countdown now.  Having toiled in the vineyards almost two years in the wake of the surprising statewide minimum wage increase victory in Florida in 2004, we are now almost to “raise day” for low wage workers on November 7th in Arizona, Ohio, Colorado, and Missouri. 

Our avowed enemies even seem to be ready to throw in the towel and concede that victory is eminent in all of these initiatives.  The radically right wing editorial writers for the Wall Street Journal  on Monday in a piece of poison called, “Ohio’s Bad Proposition,” talks about our Issue 2, as it is called in Ohio, and says flatly, “It is polling well and expected to pass.  Proponents appear to have convinced enough Buckeye State voters that such laws lift low-wage earners out of poverty….”  Thank you for this left handed set of compliments.  This typical screed mentions both ACORN and our ally, the AFL-CIO, by name. 

The WSJ makes a point that in all of these states there are competitive Congressional or gubernatorial races.  True several governors are running for re-election in these locations, but to say there are “competitive” races in Congress is simply stating the obvious since that point could be made all over the country now.  There is talk of a “wave” effect when one party or another takes a bushel of seats in a Congressional election.  The WSJ quotes some flak from the Employment Policies Institute, better know as the “evil EPI” to most of us with ACORN (this was the same outfit that tried to trash our convention in Columbus this summer with a rolling billboard and talk of a “rotten” ACORN), saying that “They believe it will turn out progressive voters.”  The WSJ concedes, “Maybe so.”

Progressive or not, we absolutely believe these minimum wage measures will turn out normally low voting and undercounted lower income voters who need to be at the polls and need to be part of decisions making on Election Day.  Our people do not vote as much as higher income groups.  Over and over our members tell us with some well earned cynicism that they don’t vote because they don’t think it matters and because their voice is not heard.  These initiatives are all about democracy and making sure — win or lose — that the people — all of the people — get heard. 

We will not call the victory until the voting is done, but we hope that if people are able to see that their vote counted and they even felt the difference in their own pocketbook, maybe it will start our folks thinking that voting regularly is a habit worth picking up and one that might do them more good than some of the other habits that have come our way.

The day is coming when the poor might just understand that voting pays for them, just like the rich have always known.

October 25, 2006

www.raisewages.org

www.sevendaysatminimumwage.org

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