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On International Women’s Day, a united voice for a $15 minimum wage

Bishop William Barber, founder of the Poor People’s Campaign and Moral Mondays, joined poor and low-income women Monday in a renewed call for Congress to enact a $15/hour minimum wage for all workers.

Kris Kincaid, a former restaurant worker from West Virginia, criticized Senator Joe Manchin for blocking efforts to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour in the $1.9 Trillion COVID relief bill that passed the Senate last Saturday.

“Low wage workers, we can’t make ends meet,” said Kincaid.”If we can pay rent, then we can’t afford groceries.”

Kincaid said she would use the latest round of stimulus to pay a month’s worth of rent and some overdue bills. Any amount left over would help feed others in her community who will not receive a relief payment from the government.

Kris Kincaid

“And it’s not because they are making too much money. It’s because they don’t have an address to send the money to. They don’t have nowhere to live. They are couch-hopping, because they lost their house,” explained Kincaid.

Shailly Gupta Barnes, Policy Director at the Kairos Center, said expansion of the child tax credit in the COVID relief bill should be celebrated, but it is also not enough.

“It’s not enough just to make it possible. It has to be accessible for families to sign-up and receive this benefit,” said Gupta Barnes, who wants the tax credit to be made permanent.

The $3,000 child tax credit works out to about $57 more a week for working parents, according to Gupta Barnes.

“We’ve done more than this for the corporations,” chided Barber at Monday’s virtual event. “They keep acting like poor people can wait.”

One person who is tired of waiting is Rhiana Ford, a tipped server who earns $5 an hour at the Ft. Lauderdale Airport.

She recounted how she took time away from that job to work for Democrats in the U.S. Senate runoff election in Georgia.

Rhiana Ford

“I left my home, I left my Dad, I left my sister, I left my finance to go to Georgia during a pandemic to make sure I could have a better future, a better everything,” Ford said.

“And I’m coming back home, and we still don’t have 15?”

Barber said politicians should not take Ford and other working women for granted.

“You are not going to mute our voice in the name that we ought to just go along to get along.”

According to the Poor People’s Campaign, more than half of the nation’s 140 million poor and low-income are women and girls, and an overwhelming majority of frontline workers are women.

The group is continuing to push the 117th Congress and the Biden administration to pass a $15/hr minimum wage, expanded unemployment benefits and help those who have suffered the most during the pandemic.

Learn more about their 14 Policy Priorities to Heal the Nation.

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