DES MOINES — Supporters for raising Iowa’s minimum wage may not have had any luck this Legislative session but they are already banding together to spread awareness on the issue throughout the coming year.
Twenty organizations and other small business owners, faith leaders, community members and labor organizations across Iowa have joined the Raise the Minimum Wage Iowa campaign, with help by the liberal Progress Iowa organization, which announced it’s official launch at the Iowa Statehouse Monday.
“We need to create an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthy few, and raising the minimum wage will provide Americans who work hard a better opportunity to get ahead while giving the economy a much needed shot in the arm,” said Sue Dinsdale, executive director of Iowa Citizen Action Network, during the event.
Matt Sinovic, executive director of Progress Iowa, said the campaign will hold informational meetings, rallies and a variety of other events across the state throughout the summer and into the fall.
“This is going to be a long-term campaign to drive support around this issue whether it’s for legislative action in Des Moines or congressional action in D.C.,” Sinovic said.
Iowa’s current minimum hourly wage is $7.25. A federal proposal, which President Barack Obama backed during his State of the Union address, calls for an increase to $10.10 per hour. Legislation was proposed in both the Iowa House and Senate this session, however neither bills made it to the floor.
Supporters rattled off a number of statistics they say supports their effort to increase the state’s minimum wage including Quinnipiac University poll results indicating two-thirds of Iowans say they support raising the state’s minimum wage.
The speakers said raising the minimum wage would help improve the state’s economy through job growth and spur increased spending by workers. Opponents of a wage increase say such a move could negatively impact business owners and more focus should be placed on training better-skilled workers for higher-wage jobs.
Other speakers included Linda Stockbauer, 66, of Des Moines who shared her experiences working minimum wage jobs while raising her four children. The retiree said a frugal lifestyle and accepting help from family and friends helped her survive.
Mike Coverdale, former owner of Block Party Studios, a quilting fabric company from Nevada, Iowa, said he supports raising the minimum wage.
“I’m here because I believe any business, large or small, whose profitability is achieved by offering the lowest wage possible are modern day slave-owners,” Coverdale said.
The coalition’s next event will be a day of action across the state on May 1.