February 17, 2021
WHAT: The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival and SEIU meet online with Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia to discuss the urgent need to include a minimum wage of $15/hour in the next COVID relief bill that Congress passes and holds a news conference afterwards. Manchin has opposed raising the minimum wage to $15/hour even though as of 2018, 50% of West Virginia’s workforce — 351,000 people — makes under $15/hour. West Virginia’s minimum wage is $8.75/hour, while a living wage in 2019 would have been $23.20/hour. In addition, the Poor People’s Campaign will hold its next Moral Monday outside Manchin’s office on Feb. 22, when it also will hold speak-outs in other states, including Arizona, where Sen, Kyrsten Sinema also has said she opposes $15/hour as part of COVID relief.
WHO: Poor and low-wage people — both tipped and non-tipped workers — from West Virginia Poor People’s Campaign and the co-chairs of the Poor People’s Campaign — Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II and Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis — will meet with Sen. Manchin and his staff, along with SEIU President Mary Kay Henry. They will speak out about the dire need of 62 million people, including 40% of Black workers, who make less than a living wage. While $15/hour is not a living wage everywhere, it will lift millions of people out of poverty and give them hope for a future that includes a roof over their heads, food on the table and other necessities of life.
WHEN: News conference starts at 11:45 a.m. ET/8:45 a.m. PT. Media can register here so they can ask questions. The meeting with Sen. Manchin starts at 10:30 a.m. ET/7:30 a.m. PT and is closed to the media.
WHERE: Online at https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/livestream/.
WHY: The demand for $15/hour is as big a fight as the ones for FDR’s New Deal during the Great Depression, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act in the 1960s. The COVID relief bill before Congress is already a compromise, and we cannot allow further compromise, especially not on the backs of those who need it the most — the 140 million poor and low-income people who live in this country, a number that has only increased in a pandemic. Republicans have not supported $15/hour while Democrats ran on the issue, and we cannot allow them to run away from it now. In West Virginia, 710,000 people are poor or low-income and across the South, not including West Virginia, that number is almost 50 million. The mandate for $15/hour lies with the 55% of poor and low-income people who voted for this president and vice president, not in the halls of Congress. Poor and low-income people were the first to return to work, the first to be infected and the first to die, and they must not be last in line for relief. This administration and Congress must respect us, protect us and pay us. Poor and low-income people, who showed their power at the ballot box in the last election, can change political will because a moral, constitutional agenda is a sound economic agenda as well as we lay out in our 14 Policy Priorities to Heal the Nation: A Moral and Economic Agenda for the first 100 days.
BACKGROUND: Nationally, more than 140 million poor and low-income people live in the United States, or 43% of the country’s population, and that was before the COVID-19 pandemic. The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, with organizing committees in 45 states, is building a moral fusion movement to address the five interlocking injustices of systemic racism, systemic poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and militarism and a distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism. Our demands are reflected in our Jubilee Platform.
CONTACT: Martha Waggoner: firstname.lastname@example.org | 919-295-0802