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  April 16, 2015

This Year, Tax Day Is Minimum Wage Day

Low-wage workers across the nation came out and demanded a $15 an hour living wage. TRNN's Thomas Hedges spoke to protesters in the nation's capitol about the day of action.
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Thomas Hedges is a journalist and producer at the Real News. He's also worked as a journalist for Ralph Nader's Center for Study of Responsive Law. He earned a degree in history from Columbia University and majored in English as an undergrad at Colgate University. @ThomasHedgesTRN.


THOMAS HEDGES, PRODUCER, TRNN: On Wednesday low-wage workers and their supporters rallied and picketed in over 230 cities across the country, including right here in Washington D.C.'s Freedom Plaza.

DELVONE MICHAEL, EXEC. DIR. D.C. WORKING FAMILIES: This is incredible energy today. This is the largest mobilization probably in the history of the labor movement. Wages have been stagnant since 1968. It's been far too long for us to get back on the right page so we can respect people.

HEDGES: Protesters are using tax day as a way to tell corporations that it's grossly unjust for them to receive lavish tax breaks and tax subsidies while the rest of the country stagnates.

LISA BROWN, EXEC. VICE PRESIDENT, 1199SEIU, D.C.:Workers want to pay taxes. But they can't pay taxes if they don't make a living wage.

Workers who don't make enough money after working a 40-hour week, don't make enough money to pay taxes, who actually draw from taxes because they're on Medicaid and public assistance and get food stamps, and they're saying we don't want to do that. We want to pay our fair share of taxes, but you have to give me a wage that allows me to do that.

HEDGES: Since 2012 low-wage workers, particularly in the fast food industry, have been hitting major cities with marches, walkouts, and protests demanding a living wage of $15 an hour. They also want better working conditions and the right to unionize. But protesters occupy all sectors, from airport workers to adjunct professors to students. Today was the community of home care workers that came out to Fight for $15.

LYNETTE REESE, HOME HEALTH CARE WORKER: On a daily basis we have to deal with people's families, and we have to deal with people one-on-one, taking care of them. $15 gives you $30,000 a year. And actually $30,000 only can get you a one-bedroom, and I have two kids.

HEDGES: Meanwhile, Wal-Mart costs taxpayers $7.8 billion annually. $6.2 billion for low-wage workers on public assistance and $1 billion in federal subsidies.

BROWN: I mean, so we have corporate welfare and CEOs who are making huge salaries that they get to bank offshore and not pay taxes on, and capital--you know, they have worked out so many ways that they don't have to pay taxes. And yet workers in America--I pay my fair share of taxes. I think somebody making millions of dollars should pay their fair share of taxes. And these workers want to pay their fair share of taxes. But to do that, they have to get a living wage.

HEDGES: For The Real News, Thomas Hedges, Washington.


DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.


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