Thursday, May 23, 2013

Minimum Wage: U.S. Secretary Of Labor Seth Harris Is Meeting With St. Louis Workers

Posted By on Thu, May 23, 2013 at 8:00 AM

click to enlarge St. Louis protester earlier this month. - KRYSTYNA NINH FOR RFT

Update: Officials say the event was cancelled due to "weather-created flight delays."

Original post: Earlier this month, St. Louis got national attention when local fast-food workers participated in a major rally demanding better pay. Some of them spoke of particularly terrible conditions and harassing bosses in local restaurants.

And today, the acting head of the United States Department of Labor is visiting St. Louis to meet with low-wage workers to discuss federal efforts to raise the minimum wage.

The event this morning is not tied to the recent protests here, but it's possible that some of the workers in attendance could bring up the massive rallies in their comments to Acting Secretary of Labor Seth Harris.

See also: - Photos/Video: Fast-Food Workers March Through Delmar Loop for Better Pay - St. Louis Fast-Food Workers Protest for Better Pay, Right to Organize

The event -- at 10:30 a.m. at the Central Reform Congregation on Waterman Boulevard -- is part of a series of round-table discussions Harris and other officials have had with workers in locations all over the country.

Harris will also stop in Kansas City later today, officials say.

The press event is designed to draw attention to President Barack Obama's proposal to raise the minimum wage, which he discussed in his February State of the Union address.

The White House has proposed raising the minimum wage from the current $7.25 an hour to $9 an hour.

Seth Harris at a Baltimore workers roundtable to discuss minimum wage. - VIA
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  • Seth Harris at a Baltimore workers roundtable to discuss minimum wage.

Lawmakers in the U.S. Senate and Congress have introduced bills for minimum wage hikes that go beyond what the president has proposed and the debate will likely continue into next year.

In St. Louis, the fast-food protests have centered on the right to a living wage above the industry norm -- as well as the right to organize through unions.

"In the past three months, I've met with workers earning at or near the minimum wage in 13 cities across the country," Harris writes in a recent blog post on the roundtables. "These workers have educated me about what it's like to live and try to raise a family on the minimum wage. They have also shared with me what a moderate increase in the minimum wage - like the one President Obama has proposed, from $7.25 to $9 an hour - would mean in their lives. They've told stories of difficult daily choices, of sacrificing one necessity for another, just to survive."

Continue for more photos from St. Louis labor rallies and the full press release for today's event

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