The PJ Tatler

Ellison: Consumers Can Swallow 'Fair' Request of Fast-Food Workers for Wage Doubling

The Congressional Progressive Caucus called the demand of fast-food workers protesting in some large cities to earn double what they do now “a fair negotiation.”

“Low-wage workers all across this country are deciding that they have got to have a better reality for their families. So yesterday I was here with members of the Progressive Caucus, and we were — I was in front of a Wendy’s and — with Jan Schakowsky and Jerry Nadler, standing with workers saying we need a pay raise,” Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said this morning on MSNBC.

“But we had other members who were in other parts of the city — I was in Milwaukee about a few weeks ago and in D.C. the work week before that. We’re trying to get the minimum wage increase. These workers are asking for $15 an hour. That’s a fair negotiation,” he added.

Members of the CPC wrote President Obama earlier this month to demand “immediate action” on higher wages for employees of private contractors and concessionaires operating in federally owned buildings and sites including Union Station and the National Zoo.

“By organizing to expose federal government complicity with their low wages, these workers have stepped to the vanguard of today’s controversy about the unprecedented income gap in our country, characterized by falling middle-class and low-income wages and rising income among the affluent and corporations. This gap cannot be addressed if our country continues to tolerate wages that leave workers in poverty,” they wrote.

Ellison said fast-food workers rely on food stamps and housing subsidies while corporate owners are “doing fabulously well.”

He added that consumers should be able to swallow higher prices to compensate for the pay hike “for somebody to be able to feed their family.”

“Much more needs to be done, no doubt about it. Because the results are not there. Yet there is something the president can do right now, and that is sign an executive order so that federal contractors have to pay their workers a livable wage,” Ellison said.

“People who are working at the Air and Space Museum, the — Smithsonian, people who are at the Reagan building and at the Union Station in D.C. — these are federal assets for the American people — are getting paid minimum wages they can’t survive on. The president can change that tomorrow. And I hope that he does.”