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Government

Group Holds Virtual Rally For $15 An Hour Minimum Wage

Poor Peoples Campaign
Julie Bennett/AP
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Rev. William Barber, leader of the Moral Mondays movement, speaks during a town hall meeting for Lowndes County residents with failing wastewater sanitation systems in Hayneville, Ala.

The Repairers of the Breach and the Poor People’s Campaign — two nonprofits with a mission to address social justice in the US — organized a Moral Mondays online event this week in Charleston.

The object of the virtual gathering was to pressure U.S. Senator Joe Manchin to support the $15 an hour federal minimum wage.

“We call them Moral Mondays, as we push an agenda for the healing of the nation,” Rev. William Barber said.

Barber is the president of Repairers of the Breach and co-chairman of the Poor People’s Campaign. He participated in the virtual event.

“Over 350,000 West Virginians who work make less than a living wage,” he said in comments before the rally. “We know that the minimum wage is a poverty wage.”

The coronavirus relief package currently before Congress is galvanizing groups to redress the issue of minimum wage. Senator Manchin is on record supporting a raise to $11 an hour.

News reports suggest that the $15 an hour federal minimum wage is not likely to remain in the relief package and will be taken up in a later bill. A report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office indicates the change could move 900,000 Americans out of poverty, but it would also cause the economy to lose 1.4 million jobs and increase the federal budget deficit by $50 billion over the next 10 years.

A spokesperson for Senator Manchin issued a statement reacting to the event, saying that Manchin “has always encouraged West Virginians to peacefully exercise their first amendment right and appreciates hearing directly from them about the issues most important to them.”

Monday’s event was originally scheduled as an in-person march in Charleston, ending at Machin’s Charleston offices, but the groups made the event virtual because of poor weather. Barber says he plans to come to West Virginia at a later date.


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