MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A large group of workers took a stand Friday morning in East Memphis, as a new presidential administration gets set to take office.
Less than a week before President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration, workers made their voices heard during a Fight For 15 Rally, hoping the next administration will raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.
“If I was making 15 dollars an hour, if I made 15, I’d be able to do a lot more,” said fast food worker Karesha Mans. “I’d be able to live stably and do the things I want to do comfortably.”
Workers cited demanding hours and difficult jobs among the reasons they deserve a pay raise, and the last year has presented an even bigger obstacle – COVID-19.
One woman says she has contracted the virus at work, leaving her with crippling medical bills and lingering effects.
“How do I feel about working during a pandemic? I’m terrified,” said Sepia Coleman. “My anxiety level is through the roof and I’ve had to seek mental-health counseling.”
We also reached out to businesses that might be affected by a federal minimum wage increase. While everyone we spoke with advocated for worker’s rights, they also cited financial hardships that owners are feeling during COVID-19. In some cases, a mandated wage increase could turn a small profit into a business losing money.
Fourteen other cities also staged rallies, pushing for the next president to enact the change within his first 100 days in office.
For workers, the bump in their paychecks can’t come soon enough.
“I’m fighting for my children, I’m fighting for our city,” said fast food worker Tiffany Lowe. “I’m just fighting for a livable wage.”
Right now, eight states currently have a $15 minimum wage.