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This Martin Luther King Day, Push for a Living Wage
Taylor Leake

January 17, 2011
View the Original Article

Today is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and people all across the country will honor the civil rights leader. From speeches at local high schools and sermons in churches to Organizing for America's national day of service, MLK day is a day to reflect on how a man and a social movement changed our country.

That is why the Living Wage NYC movement is using MLK day to continue their push for a living wage for New York City workers (you can see previous coverage of the Living Wage NYC movement here and here). It is a fitting way to honor King's legacy. After all King fought not just for civil rights, but also for economic justice. His final action was a march in support of unionized sanitation workers striking for fair wages and better treatment.

So last week, Living Wage NYC, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), members of the faith community, and elected officials gathered at the Convent Avenue Baptist Church. The crowd of roughly 2,000 continued their push to pass the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act, which would require any company receiving city subsidies pay its workers at least $10 an hour, plus benefits. New York City spends billions of dollars every year on subsidies, but sometimes the jobs created with these tax dollars pay poverty level wages and offer no benefits.

Rev. Michael Walrond Jr. of the First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem, one of the many faith leaders in attendance, explained the action: "We are continuing the struggle for economic justice and fair wages by speaking for the oppressed and those who are caught in the cycle of poverty in our community. This is the most appropriate way to remember and honor Dr. King’s legacy."

Rev. Walrond Jr. was joined by Comptroller John Liu, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., city council members Inez Dickens, Oliver Koppell, Melissa Mark-Viveritos, Letitia James and Gale Brewer, and Congressman Charlie Rangel, as well as labor leaders and low wage workers who shared their stories.

If you want to join the movement for a living wage, and, like the crowd chanted, "Pass the Bill!" you can head over the Living Wage NYC's website and keep up with news of the movement. You can also take action by sending an email urging the New York City council to pass the Fair Wages for New Yorkers Act.