LIMA — A group of demonstrators held up signs Tuesday in Lima’s Town Square maintaining that the current minimum wage does not meet what workers need to live in today’s society.
The demonstration was part of a Day of Action in which workers demonstrated across the country to call for a minimum wage of $15 per hour, more than 50 percent higher than the current $7.25 federal minimum wage and 46 percent higher than Ohio’s $8.10 per hour minimum wage.
“We’re really hoping that by having this Day of Action in cities across the state of Ohio and the nation that we can raise the profile of the need to raise minimum wage,” according to Samantha Herd of ProgressOhio, the organization behind the Lima demonstration. “That would make an annual salary of about $30,000, and we know that over half of the people who make minimum wage are women, so in looking at a household of a woman raising two small kids, that $30,000 seems to be what’s appropriate to be able to provide for that.”
Five people participated in the demonstration Tuesday, most of whom had a connection to unions. For them, having a higher minimum wage is part of the same fight that unions have fought for years.
“I work at Honda where we have a union and collective bargaining,” Tom McNamara, of Lima, said. “Those people down there — and I’m talking about those people who have been there for years and the company has not taken care of them — they need to be properly compensated for their efforts on behalf of the company.”
U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, is also taking up this cause in Washington, D.C., co-sponsoring the Pay Workers a Living Wage Act, which would raise the federal minimum wage up to $15 an hour by 2020.
“No one in this country who works full time should be forced to live in poverty,” he said in a Tuesday teleconference call with reporters. “Raising the minimum wage would help grow our middle class and grow our economy.”
Addressing concerns that this legislation would simply create more minimum wage workers, with companies simply doing the minimum needed to obey the law and not give comparable raises to those just above minimum wage, Brown pointed to companies such as Nationwide Insurance, which has already raised its minimum wage to $15, as hope that other businesses would take similar action to remain competitive.
“I think that when companies do the right thing by themselves, you’re going to see other companies do it,” he said.
Reach Craig Kelly at 567-242-0390 or on Twitter @Lima_CKelly.