Wages

A Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage in Key States in 2006

While Congress fails to raise the minimum wage, ACORN is following up on the 2004 wage victory in Florida by working with strong state coalitions on ballot initiative campaigns to raise the minimum wage in Arizona, Colorado, Missouri, and Ohio. Legislative campaigns have already won wage increases in other states.

Ohio ACORN leader Julie Smith spoke at the “Raise the Minimum Wage Press Conference” on Sept. 28 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. She joined Senators Kennedy, Clinton, and Durbin and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney in condemning the Republican Congress for blocking an increase in the minimum wage.

Smith knows personally the difficulty of trying to make ends meet while earning such a low wage. When she was 20 years old, Smith was a single mother with an infant child living off $3.35 an hour – the minimum wage at the time. Determined to improve her situation, she enrolled in trade school to learn a skill that would qualify her for higher-paying positions. It was a tough time for Smith, who had to wake up at 4:30 in the morning to take a bus and then a train to drop off her daughter to a babysitter. She would then ride the train to school to attend classes. After, it was straight to work, where she would labor at a department store until 11 p.m.

Smith is close to the minimum wage issues. She shared her personal account of struggling to sustain off minimum wage with the crowd.

“I received assistance in the form of food stamps and childcare vouchers, yet there was barely enough money to pay the bills and buy diapers – and never anything left over. I was always tired, and it was a struggle to get through each day,” Smith said. “I was also blessed to have friends, family and mentors to guide and assist me by pointing me in the right direction, steering me to appropriate resources, buying my daughter's clothes and other essentials. 

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