Fighting for Living Wages
in the Low-Wage Economy

April 30, 2013 – This month, workers at fast food restaurants in New York City and Chicago staged a series of strikes aimed at calling attention to the low wages and poor working conditions that prevail throughout the food service industry. The strike in New York coincided with the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination 45 years ago in Memphis, where he had traveled to support low-paid striking sanitation workers. 

Living Wages and a Voice at Work

NELP’s Tsedeye Gebreselassie was a featured guest on the MSNBC show All In with Chris Hayes, joining striking workers, Joseph Barrera and Tabitha Verges, and Columbia University professor Dorian Warren to discuss fast food worker organizing and the need for strong labor standards as the core of America’s economy shifts towards low-wage work:

“In 1968, the year of the sanitation strike, the minimum wage was $1.60 – and if you translate that to today’s dollars, it’s almost $11 per hour. It’s kind of amazing to think that we are far behind where we were 40 years ago.” – Tsedeye Gebreselassie, National Employment Law Project


Tsedeye Gebreselassie on MSNBC

Tracking the Low-Wage Recovery

Now, as then, the core demand underlying low-wage worker organizing is for the basic rights all of America’s workers should enjoy: living wages, economic opportunity through work, and dignity and respect on the job. NELP’s Annette Bernhardt recently joined other panelists on the Melissa Harris-Perry show on MSNBC to talk about why workers are working more and earning less today.


Annette Bernhardt on MSNBC

Raising the Federal Minimum Wage

As low-wage workers organize for good jobs and a voice at work, NELP’s Jack Temple spoke with Al Jazeera this month about the need for Congress to boost wage standards across the bottom of the labor market by passing the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, which would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour and help recover much of the purchasing power it has lost over the past 40 years.


Jack Temple on Al Jazeera

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