Bipartisan coalition of elected officials, immigrants and low-wage workers plan rally to call for $15 minimum wage and driver’s license access for undocumented immigrants working in Commonwealth
WHERE: Bell Tower on the capitol grounds. Corner of N. 9th Street & E. Franklin Street, Richmond, VA
WHO: Take Action Virginia, a coalition of low-wage workers and immigrants; Lieutenant Governor Ralph S. Northam; Richmond Mayor-Elect Levar M. Stoney; Delegate Sam Rasoul; and others to be announced.
RICHMOND, Va. (January 9, 2016) Take Action Virginia, a coalition of low-wage workers and immigrants will hold a rally and press conference at 11:00 a.m. Thursday to call on Virginia legislators to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 and provide access to driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants working in the Commonwealth.
“These are common-sense issues for working families and to promote public safety,” said CASA in Action President Gustavo Torres. “Virginia needs to be the example of a state that supports those working hard to make a living.”
Legislators from both parties support a measure to authorize driver’s licenses to immigrants working in Virginia, who alone contribute $5.5 billion in gross domestic product to the state economy. At least 12 states and the District of Columbia have passed similar legislation. Having a state-issued form of ID allows undocumented people to open checking accounts, and also enables law enforcement officials to have positive and verifiable form of identification when detaining individuals.
“It’s time for legislators to recognize that immigrants are a huge part of the overall economy in Virginia and we must take steps to ensure they can fully participate in our community,” said Mark Federici, President of UFCW Local 400.
In addition, advocates are calling on legislators to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15 by 2020. California, New York and the District of Columbia have passed similar legislation, along with several cities and municipalities.
“It’s shameful that men and women working a full-time minimum wage job in Virginia still qualify for public assistance,” said Jaime Contreras, Regional Vice-President for 32BJ SEIU. “The economy in this state is looking up and it’s time we ask employers to do their part to help working families in Virginia.”
While the minimum wage in Virginia is only $7.25, an individual living in the city of Richmond requires an hourly wage of at least $11.93 to cover the cost of living, according to Dr. Amy K. Glasmeier of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. That number more than doubles if the individual has just one child to support.
Take Action Virginia is a progressive and diverse alliance of organizations working to win social, economic, and racial justice for all working families in Virginia that includes 32BJ SEIU, SEIU Virginia 512, CASA in Action, LiUNA! Mid-Atlantic, NAKASEC Action Fund, UNITE HERE Local 23, UNITE HERE Local 25, and UFCW Local 400. The member organizations of Take Action Virginia collectively represent tens of thousands of Virginians employed as home care workers, parks staff, librarians, building cleaners, nurses, construction & highway workers, hotel workers, retail employees, and more. They include African-American, immigrant, Latino, and Korean voters.