For Immediate Release: Contact: Ar’Sheill Sinclair, 832.736.1572
July 24, 2012
Six Protestors Arrested While Calling for Hike in Minimum Wage
Houston—On the third anniversary of the last raise in the federal minimum wage and the two-week mark of the janitors’ unfair labor practice strike, four Houston-area activists engaged in peaceful civil disobedience today and were arrested while blocking a downtown street. Two additional protestors who were not participating in the civil disobedience—including a reporter for La Opinion—were also arrested. It is unknown at this time why they were targeted by police.
Nearly a thousand Houstonians marched through rush hour traffic in support of underpaid janitors and all low-wage workers across Houston. The rally to raise the wage was a national action, which occurred in 30 other cities across the country.
According to the National Employment Law Project, the minimum wage would be $10.55 today if it had been adjusted for inflation starting in 1968. As with janitors in Houston, who are paid $8.35 an hour, more than 1 in 4 private sector jobs pay less than $10 an hour. In Texas, more than half a million workers make $7.25 or less, tying Texas with Mississippi for the highest proportion of minimum wage jobs in the country.
“Making $7.25 an hour affects how independent I can be,” said Ian Scott who works at Outback Steakhouse, a subsidiary of Bain Capital, a conglomerate of establishments infamous for helping Mitt Romney make his fortune. “I still live with my parents but it’s not where I pictured myself or how my teachers pictured my future would be. Making minimum wage is scary… and with $7.25 the future doesn’t seem promising. We need a livable wage of $10 per hour.”
Congressman George Miller plans to introduce legislation to raise the federal minimum wage later this summer. Texas Congressional Delegation members Al Green (TX-09) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30) are current co-signers of the legislation, along with 73 other members of Congress. The rally consisted of community advocates from the Texas Organizing Project, Mi Familia Vota, HOPE, ROC United, Crecen, Interfaith Worker Justice, Houston Peace and Justice Center, Good Jobs Great Houston, and SEIU Local 1. Each organization plans to mobilize its members to call on wealthy corporations and elected officials to stop blocking legislation that will raise the federal minimum wage to nearly $10 per hour.
“I want my daughter to know that she has the right to dream and I want to provide the best possible guidance in order for her to reach those dreams,” says Maria Lopez, a striking janitor who spoke at today’s rally. “But, like many working parents, I can’t be there for her if I have to work two or three jobs just to put food on the table.”