Union member rally for higher minimum wage
Advocates for a higher minimum wage rallied in Fairbanks to support Ballot Measure 3 in the November general election.
Union members and politicians who want their support were in the crowd at Myrtle Thomas Park on Thursday, two days after the Alaska primary.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told participants that they did a great job at putting the measure on the ballot and should now work to get it passed, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.
"When we raise the minimum wage in Alaska every Alaskan worker is going to benefit," Trumka said. "When people have money in their pockets, they can spend and when they spend, they create demand and when you create demand you put people to work."
Measure 3 would raise Alaska's minimum wage from $7.75 to $8.75 on Jan. 1, 2015, and to $9.75 in 2016. Future increases would be based on inflation or be $1 higher than federal minimum wage, whichever is higher.
"Everyone who works hard should be able to support a family," Trumka said. "This is America, the home of the American dream and this is Alaska, the land of opportunity. Let's make it an opportunity for every single worker out there so they can come home at the end of the day and support their family."
During the final days of the legislative session earlier this year, the minimum wage issue flared up. Republicans pushed an effort to raise the minimum wage higher than Measure 3 proposes, but it was fought down by Democrats and labor-friendly Republicans.
Critics called the proposal a political ploy to keep the measure off the ballot and labor-friendly voters away from the polls in November. Such an increase also could have been repealed the next year before it went into effect, without the two-year protection against legislative changes afforded by an initiative.
Measure 3 has no organized opposition to it.
Thursday's rally was held on the first day of Alaska's AFL-CIO conference in Fairbanks.