Unionists Take Minimum Wage Raise Fight to Heritage Foundation, Citadel of Radical Right

WASHINGTON (PAI)–Dozens of unionists, spotlighting how raising the minimum wage would help woman workers in particular, took the fight to raise the wage on March 31 to the doorstep of a leading Radical Right foe, the Heritage Foundation.

Led by AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, the group picketed the foundation’s headquarters on Capitol Hill, challenging the group’s president, former Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., to openly debate the issue with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

The marchers campaigned as, inside the building, DeMint and his colleagues hosted a program supposedly honoring women’s history month.  Speakers at that program, news reports said, advocated returning women to traditional roles of motherhood and subservience.

“There are people sitting in there debating about not lifting up women from poverty wages,” Gebre told the group while gesturing towards the Heritage building.

“Hey, hey, ho, ho, poverty wages have got to go!” and “No, you can’t survive on $7.25!” were among the chants.  Many of the signs featured side-by-side pictures of Trumka and DeMint topped by the question: “Mr. DeMint, afraid to debate?”

Heritage is a leading right wing think tank which, under DeMint’s leadership, has morphed into an activist organization against workers and their causes.  That includes its opposition to raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour by 2016.  It now is at $7.25.  The picket line at Heritage kicked off a week of labor-backed and labor-sponsored “raise the wage” events in D.C.

They’ll culminate with a briefing on the impact a minimum wage hike would have on woman workers, arrival of a “Raise The Wage” bus that has been touring the Northeast and Midwest, both on Thursday.  The Senate may vote on the minimum wage hike that day.

“We’re right when we say raise the minimum wage, because if the minimum wage had kept up with inflation, it would be at $15.30” an hour, Gebre added.  Heritage’s corporate sponsors “are fighting workers on a daily basis” on that issue and others, he said.

Unionists on the picket line came from the Bricklayers, LCLAA, ATU, the Steelworkers, the Machinists, OPEIU, the Communications Workers, AFSCME and Pride at Work.