Events from Wilmington to the mountains protest minimum wage stagnation

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — ​ Protests across the state call today an ‘unhappy’ birthday for wage earners around the country. For a decade now the federal minimum wage has not changed.

Wednesday, protestors took to a busy Wilmington road to demand raising the minimum wage to help families struggling with higher costs of living. Members of the Southeastern NC Central Labor Council as well as the Alliance for Economic Justice protested at the intersection of College Road and Oleander Drive.

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“People that are making $7.25 are living in poverty,” said protester George Vlasits.

The protest goes in conjunction with two other statewide events. The Decade Without a Raise Workers’ Forum took place in Durham as well as the ‘Unhappy 10th Birthday to the Federal Minimum Wage’ community gathering in Asheville.

“To find out that we have been neglecting this for a decade and like I said the cost of living continues to skyrocket, it’s just a travesty that we are not taking care of each other,” said protester Sarah Daniels.

Members of the two groups say since 2009, workers earning at or near the minimum wage have seen the cost of necessities, like housing, utilities, and medical care, continue to rise, while their wages remained stagnant.

“Has your rent gone up? Have your groceries gone up? Have your taxes changed? Any of those essentials that you have to have. I know my utility bills have gone up,” said Rebecca Stutts who works in the restaurant industry.

However, with a proposed wage increase, there’s the debate on how it will hurt or help consumers.

“Undoubtedly there will be some winners and some losers,” said SCORE Cape Fear Region chapter Chair Dan Levine. “It’s not a simple solution to mandate across the country when the country is so diverse and industries are so diverse.”

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution to begin the gradual wage increase of the minimum wage. It now sits in the U.S. Senate for debate. District 7 Representative David Rouzer voted against the wage increase.