The same election that brought us Trump’s White House also brought hope to more than 2 million Americans earning low wages. In Arizona, Colorado, Maine, and Washington, voters made their way to the polls to vote for ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage for their neighbors.
With so much going wrong – the Muslim ban, the Goldman Sachs cabinet, Russian spying, and bumbled diplomacy with Australia, Canada, and Germany – it’s easy to miss that since January 1, these initiatives have made a difference in workers lives with raises worth more than $600 million. And that impact grows with every paycheck. But now, corporate interests (allies of Donald Trump and the Koch brothers) are trying to gut those raises. They are using their lawyers and lobbyists to buy the outcome they couldn’t win with voters at the ballot box.
Only two months after these wage increases went into effect, workers in Arizona, Maine, and Washington are already battling to defend them. In each of these states, the will of the people was loud and clear when these ballot initiatives won by wide, double-digit margins. In Arizona the minimum wage ballot beat Donald Trump by 11 points!
The ballot initiatives campaigns took place under the bright lights of an election, these lawsuits and lobbying efforts are taking place out of the public eye.
That’s why we launched #SaveTheWage– a campaign to stand with local groups, protect minimum wage increases won at the ballot box in 2016, and draw national attention to the coordinated efforts by lawyers and lobbyists trying to repeal them. The Chamber of Commerce, along with the Koch brothers and countless other business interests are trying to repeal wages from some of the hardest-working and lowest-paid workers in our country. We’re going to do whatever it takes to stop them.
And already our local partners are seeing success. Last week, the Arizona Supreme Court unanimously ruled against the Chamber of Commerce and its attempt to undermine voters and steal wage increases from hardworking low-wage workers.
The headline in the Phoenix New Times said it all: “Minimum-Wage Law Saved: Arizona Supreme Court Backs Voters Over Business Interests.” This is an incredible victory for voters and workers like Kathy. Kathy works as a fast food manager in Tucson, AZ and supports her family on her wage. The ballot initiative was so important to her, she volunteered with the ballot initiative campaign. She is why we are fighting to #SaveTheWage and she is featured in this video:
But this fight isn’t over. The stakes have never been higher for the 1.69 million workers like Kathy who got a raise in these three states.
This includes Maine, where the legislature continued to move ahead with legislation that defies the will of the voters and strips tipped workers of a fair wage. Last week, Mainers took to the streets and protested the setback.
And in Washington state, supporters of Raise Up Washington are preparing for an April 21 court hearing that marks the start of a long battle with business interests to save these raises for workers.
In Arizona, Maine and Washington, the medicine, food, and rent of 1.69 million minimum wage workers are on the line– Kathy and other workers from around the country stand to lose $2.9 billion more dollars by the end of the year, and we cannot let that happen.
That’s why we need to fight back. Strong. As a united front. But we can’t do that alone.