Trusted local news leader for Williams AZ and the Grand Canyon
Tue, Sept. 22

Five fifteen isn't working

Working for $5.15 an hour is a reality for many throughout the state of Arizona. Williams is a small town and we recognize everyone's face. We know where they work. We know where they live. Because we are a tourist town, many are working for $5.15 an hour.

The price of property in the Williams area is at an all-time high. The price of gasoline has risen as has the price of food and utilities. The federal $5.15 an hour minimum wage has been in effect since 1997. Arizona has no minimum wage standard.

FIVE FIFTEEN ISN'T WORKING is a new political committee formed for the purpose of raising the minimum wage in Arizona. The chairperson of the committee is Bob Schwartz, a Tucson attorney, who says that while the purchasing power of the minimum wage, after inflation, is at an all-time low, the federal government has done nothing to provide relief for workers. Schwartz cites that 44 states have minimum wage laws and 13 of those states boast a minimum wage higher than the federal minimum wage.

A constitutional amendment to establish a higher minimum wage in Arizona has been filed with the Secretary of State. The proposed Arizona Minimum Wage Amendment would raise the minimum wage in Arizona from the current $5.15 per hour to $5.95 in July 2007 and $6.75 in July 2008. 

The federal government defines poverty for a family of four if they live on $19,350 a year or less. What difference does $1.60 an hour make? Earning $5.15 an hour reaps $206 for a 40-hour week or $10,300 for a 50-week year. Earning $6.75 an hour reaps $270 for a 40-hour week; or $13,500 for a 50-week year. The difference $1.60 per hour would make to many families is huge.

The guiding principle of a living wage campaign is that people who work a full-time job should not have to live below the poverty line. A living wage means sufficient wages to pay for basic necessities in a given community. A living wage campaign is a grassroots effort by employees to win wages that are sufficient to pay for rent, food, utilities, taxes, health care, transportation and childcare.

FIVE FIFTEEN ISN'T WORKING began raising money and building statewide support for its petition drive several weeks ago. Fewer than 200,000 signatures are needed to place the minimum wage issue on the ballot in November. The committee's goal is to obtain 500,000 signatures. The committee is attempting to raise $5,000,000 for the initiative's effort. Committee members are challenging Arizona workers to work one day at minimum wage and contribute the difference that they earn to the effort of providing a living wage to all Arizona workers.

Learn how you can help raise the minimum wage in Arizona by visiting www.515isntworking.com.

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