Can You Live “7 DAYS @ MINIMUM WAGE”?

This summer, when I jumped head-first into Chicago’s big-box wage debate, I repeatedly said that the best way to promote a wage increase was at the state level. Little did I suspect that, three months later, I would be selected for the national publicity team of a weeklong, ACORN/AFL-CIO sponsored Internet campaign to raise the minimum wage in six states.

But, amazingly enough, I was. (I kid you not.) And 7 Days @ Minimum Wage is set to be one incredibly awesome web event.

In November, voters in six states (Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, and Ohio) will go to the polls to decide whether $5.15 an hour is enough for their fellow citizens to live on.

It’s not.

That’s been the combined message of ACORN and the AFL-CIO for a long time (and certainly was the gist of Chicago’s recent big-box wage controversy). To drive that message home for the modern masses, the two organizations have teamed up to host a weeklong YouTube-based video blog to let America’s most hardworking wage earners speak for themselves.

Beginning Monday, October 23, and for the next seven days, the website, 7 Days @ Minimum Wage (that’s sevendaysatminimumwage.org), will offer seven video diaries from seven hardworking people, struggling against all odds–and failing–to make ends meet on $5.15 an hour. Each day a different person will tell their story, perhaps a neighbor, friend, or coworker of someone reading these words right now.

7days_01.gif

The diaries will be hosted by TV personality Roseanne Barr–as it turns out, a big fan of ACORN and a steadfast supporter of community activism. (You did know she started a foundation to help rebuild the post-Katrina Gulf Coast, didn’t you?)

But celebrity aside, the point is simple. Dead simple:


$5.15 an hour x 40 hours = poverty

Kind of hard to argue with that. Or try this: how many of you out there, sometime in the past nine years, toiled away at $5.15 an hour? Do you remember how far it went? More importantly, do you remember what year it was?

The $5.15 federal minimum wage hit the scene in 1997. It’s 2006 now, how can it not be time for a change? (And anyway, if approved the minimum wages in the six states would only rise to between $6.15 and $6.85 an hour–not far different from the current $6.50 minimum in Illinois–so it’s not like these everyday breadwinners are asking for the moon.)

Thanks to my friend and former colleague, Washington D.C.-based progressive communications consultant Sarah Massey, for helping to bring me on board. This is one team effort I’m proud to be a part of.

To learn more…

Visit sevendaysatminimumwage.org the week of October 23 and witness for yourself why the time for change is now. As the kickoff date draws closer, more and more interactive content will be added to the site.

Download the blogger press release (in PDF format).

Browse lots of background information about the national minimum-wage fight at the AFL-CIO site America Needs a Raise, and at ACORN’s Raise Wages webpage.

And read continually updated Net coverage here…

Ecorazzi: Roseanne to Host 7 Days @ Min. Wage
BlogHer: Seven Days at Minimum Wage
ACORN News Blog
AFL-CIO: AZ Blog

…and you thought I was on Wal-Mart’s side, didn’t you?

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