GNOGP Supports Living Wage Initiative
The Greater New Orleans Green party is joining forces with ACORN and SEIU Local 100 to support the February 2002 Living Wage ballot initiative. The initiative would raise the minimum wage in Orleans Parish to $6.15 per hour.
"The issue is a lot more than just gaining $1 more in wages," said Art Carpenter, GNOGP Living Wage Coordinator. "This is an important element in creating a movement for further victories down the road for the 47,000 working poor in New Orleans."
The ballot issue, which would raise the minimum wage in Orleans Parish to $1 above the Federal minimum (currently $5.15/hr), will be decided by voters at the February 2, 2002 elections. The wage increase will not apply to nonprofits, government agencies or businesses grossing less than $500,000 per year.
The Green Party strategy is to reach out to low-income workers -- particularly in the hospitality industry -- to educate them on the unique opportunity to vote themselves a pay raise. Voter registration is also a component of the Greens' campaign.
ACORN and SEIU Local 100 have been working for over five years to get the issue onto the ballot -- fighting an uphill battle in the courts and with over 50,000 pro-living wage signatures against City Council stonewalling and private interests.
The most groundbreaking element of this proposal is that -- if it passes -- New Orleans will be the first living wage campaign to have won an increase in the minimum wage for all major private employers. Most living wages only apply to government-contracted work.
Greens have been instrumental elsewhere in the United States to help institute living wages -- wages that families can actually live off of, instead of working full time in poverty.
"Meager minimum wages that keep working families far below the poverty line is a way our system has institutionalized poverty," said Carpenter.
In Santa Monica, CA, members of the City Council in the Green Party casted decisive votes to approve a Living Wage ordinance setting wages at $10.50 an hour for employees of businesses grossing over $5 million in the beachfront city's coastal tourism zone. Other cities with recent living wage victories include Denver, Miami, Ann Arbor, San Francisco, and Boston.
by Jason Neville
(some material from ACORN)