With a vote looming in the U.S. Senate, Gov. Pat Quinn and U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., joined union members and workers in Chicago today to push for a hike in the minimum wage.
It was an interesting juxtasposition for Durbin who listened on as at least one activist called on U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., to vote to increase the minimum wage, something Kirk opposes. Kirk has said he would vote for Durbin’s November challenger, Republican Jim Oberweis, but said he would not actively campaign for him given Kirk and Durbin’s successful relationship.
On this issue, however, Durbin and Kirk vastly differ. Kirk has told Early & Often he opposes a boost to the minimum wage because he believes it deters job expansion. Durbin is a fierce proponent of lifting the minimum wage.
Today in Federal Plaza, Quinn and Durbin joined Americans United for Change, which is on an 11-state tour pushing for an increase to the federal minimum wage.
“And so Senator Kirk there is no excuse. Women need a raise. Older workers need a raise. America needs a raise,” implored William McNary, president of USAction. “Senator Kirk, we need you to vote to give America a raise.”
Durbin did no pile on regarding Kirk.
Nancy Salgado, who has two children, spoke through tears explaining how she’s struggled to make ends meet while working now at McDonald’s in Logan Square.
“It’s very emotional. I worked for McDonald’s for 12 years, and I’m still a crew member and I’m still on poverty wage. Yes, poverty wage, $8.25. Is that fair? It’s not fair. I support two kids and myself. They don’t understand how mommy does it to provide a roof work, meals and a house to say we’re: ‘Ok, we’re going to make it to the next day,'” she said, struggling through tears.
Rose Campbell, who works for Wal-Mart in Chicago, said she didn’t earn enough money to pay the rent on an apartment on her wages.
Illinois’ minimum wage stands at $8.25 an hour and activists are pushing to lift that to at least $10 an hour.
Durbin said the U.S. Senate could vote this week on whether to boost the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour.
“This senator is voting for a raise in the minimum wage,” Durbin said to cheering supporters.
President Obama is scheduled to speak at the University of Michigan on Tuesday.