Low-wage workers rally on 50th anniversary Memphis sanitation strike
About 200 low-wage workers and union members sporting pickets and signs rallied on Monday around lunch hour at a Kansas City McDonald’s to urge an increase in the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Monday’s rally at the McDonald’s at 1200 Emanuel Cleaver II Blvd. came on the 50th anniversary of the famous Memphis, Tenn., sanitation workers strike. The Memphis workers on Feb. 12, 1968, protested with signs reading “I Am A Man” after two men died at a santiation facility; they demanded that the city recognize their union and increase their wages to $2 an hour.
Stand Up KC, a local advocacy group promoting racial and economic equality, organized Monday’s Fight For $15 rally.
“Even though I work 50 hours a week, my low pay means I don’t have access to health care, my low pay means I have trouble keeping food in my fridge, my low pay means I have to decide if I’m going to pay the gas bill or the elec bill this month,” said Bryan Scarcella, a McDonald’s worker in Kansas City. “My low pay means I live every day a heartbeat away from total financial disaster.”
Advocates for increasing the minimum wage plan to organize and support political candidates in Missouri who are willing to increase the state’s minimum wage of $7.70 an hour. The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour and has remained that was since 2009.
The Kansas City Council in 2015 approved an ordinance gradually increasing minimum wage in the city to $13 an hour by 2020.
But Missouri law preempts cities from requiring a higher minimum wage than the level set by the state.
The Kansas City Council, recognizing it could not supercede the state’s mandate on minimum wage, later passed an ordinance to repeal the increase and instead passed a resolution urging the Missouri General Assembly to increase the state minimum wage.