Workers rally to raise minimum wage in Wisconsin

By: Max Hess - Email
By: Max Hess - Email

Posted Thursday, June 26, 2014 -- 10:00 p.m.

Clapping, chants and pleading for higher minimum wage were the sounds outside of the City County Building in Madison this afternoon.

Workers, labor leaders as well as selected county board supervisors rallied in wake of Thursday night's county board meeting, scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

"Raising the wage is the difference between being able to support yourself and your family, without relying on public assistance, or struggling at the end of each month," said Peter Rickman with Wisconsin Jobs Now.

Rickman lead the rally, introducing low-wage workers and arguing that state leadership under Governor Scott Walker needs to change.

They are asking for the wage to be raised to $10.10 per hour; currently the rage is set at $7.25.

The matter was up for discussion at the county board meeting, introducing a referendum that would let voters in Dane County have a say on potential minimum wage changes on November's ballot.

Rickman said its "something that directly touches the lives of [nearly] 600,000 people in Wisconsin".

One of those 600,000 people is Sean Lane.

He moved to Madison a while back, after leaving the Rockford, IL, area.

"I had a really hard time finding a job," he said, adding that he had applied for about 150 jobs before finally getting hired at Taco Bell.

Lane had previously been in jail, and said that the way he lived on minimum wage was actually less appealing than his time being incarcerated.

"My entire quality of life, it just... plummeted," he said.

It's a conclusion that Lane says is sad, and one he hopes will be different come November.

The Republican opposition under Scott Walker says raising the minimum wage would actually cause employers to hire less rather than more, hurting the economy.

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