Updated 05/22/2012 10:51 PM
Advocates urge State Senate to raise minimum wage
The minimum wage in 1968 was $1.60 per hour. Today it's $7.25, so it would appear that we've come a long way. But, after adjusting for inflation, it appears workers in the 1960s were actually better off. Their pay is equivalent to $10.27 in today's dollars. As our Katie Gibas reports, advocates in Onondaga County are trying to raise awareness about the need to raise the state's minimum wage.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
ONONDAGA COUNTY, N.Y. -- Tanya Murray is a single mother. She's been at her current job for 15 months and makes just over minimum wage.
"I pay my rent every month and then there's a little bit left over to get stuff that the kids need and then household products and stuff like that. But it doesn't leave any extra money for luxuries of going out to eat, going to the movies or anything like that. My youngest daughter hates it a lot because she doesn't get to go and do the things the other kids get to," said Murray.
Murray joined a number of community activists Tuesday as they raised awareness about the state minimum wage by hosting a food drive. Right now the state minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Advocates are calling for it to be increased to $8.50.
"When you're living on $15,080 a year, the increase to $8.50 really does make a huge difference in your income. People deserve to be valued monetarily for the work that they're doing," said Megan Godfrey, the lead organizer at Alliance of Communities Transforming Syracuse.
Rev. Kevin Agee, the pastor at Hopps Memorial CME Church, added, "People who work have a right to live in dignity. People who work have a right to be able to support their families. And nobody who's willing to work and able to go to work and goes to work every single day should have to raise their family in poverty."
But the State Senate has stalled the bill that would raise pay. Minimum wage is about $8,000 per year below the poverty line for a family of four. That means many minimum wage earners often rely on food banks and other social welfare services.
“Raising the minimum wage would help working families. I've worked my whole life. They think it's just lazy people who don't want to work. And it's not. They think it's mostly teenagers that make minimum wage. I haven't been a teenager in many years. And making minimum wage really sucks. But if they were to the raise minimum wage, I think it would make a lot of people's lives change. I might have a little bit more money do things with my daughter, like take her to the movies once in a while or just take her out and do something she wanted to do," said Murray.
Eighteen states have higher minimum wages than New York. And advocates say they're not going to stop until they win this battle.
New York is currently in line with the federal minimum wage, which last increased in 2009.