Inside fight for $15 minimum wage

Mary Kay Henry, International President of Service Employees International Union, talks about the need to raise the minimum wage to $15 to help restaurant workers, home care and nursing home workers.
5:13 | 02/23/21

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Transcript for Inside fight for $15 minimum wage
In honor of black history month fast food workers went on a one-day strike last week demanding a $15 minimum wage, this comes as Washington debates a $15 federal minimum wage. Joining us now is Mary Kay Henry, international president of the service employees international union. Mary, thank you for being with us. Your union doesn't represent fast food workers, but is a strong supporter of this fight for 15 movement. Go ahead on national television, make the case for increasing the minimum wage to $15 on a federal level. A $15 minimum wage is an economic and moral imperative for our nation. Essential workers have been showing up to work feeding us, caring for us, delivering goods to us, producing our nation's food throughout this entire they've been doing it on a measly $7.25 minimum wage. It's long past time for this nation to go to 15 so moms and dads don't choose between asthma inhalers and rent and can put food on the table. If we want to rescue the nation and begin the recovery, we have to invest in the low wages all across the economy in the service and care sector. We look forward to the congress acting on passing the $15 minimum wage as part of the American rescue plan and sending it to the president's desk for his signature. The president signalled it might not be a part of the final bill, the final covid-19 relief bill. It could come up down the road. Are you worried if it's not in this bill your chances increase or decrease of getting to that $15 minimum wage? Workers know that have been striking and fighting for 15 for the past 18 years is that 70% of the American public supports it. We had 60% of Florida's voters just passed it. We know the president believes it's long past time for the $15 minimum wage to go into effect. That's why we're turning up the heat, texting, phoning, emailing we're meeting with senators to make the case that 10% of the American people living and working in poverty is way too much. An overwhelming percentage of workers are women and we know that 30% of all black workers are earning minimum wage in this country. If you really want to tackle racial equity you have to raise the minimum wage. Now critics of this increase point to a nonpartisan study by the coressional budget office that says raising the federal minimum wage to $15 to 2025 would increase wages for millions, but also result in the loss of 1.4 million jobs over the next four years. What's your response to that study? You know, economists said that in Seattle when the wage got raised to 15 and then rewrote their study when they found that they were wrong. There wasn't job loss. There was job growth. When you put more money in people's pockets, they spend it in their neighborhood and it grows the economy. We're confident if we can get this passed and sent to the president's desk, every community will begin to see job growth because people will have more money in their pockets and won't have to live on a razor's edge. The nursing assistants changing their clothes on the porch so they don't take the covid virus into their families, will have the peace of mind of providing for their families. You hit on this a little bit. Do you think this pandemic has helped better make the case for a $15 minimum wage given how much we have seen like never before really how much we depend on the essential workers? Absolutely. Essential workers were happy to be applauded and have pots banged. Essential workers earning minimum wage want to see congress act in treating them as essential by raising their pay. It's long past time for workers to be respected, protected and paid what they're worth. It's why we're so excited about the $15 minimum wage being included in the American rescue plan and to have care giving invested in in the next action of government when we move to creating good jobs. We need home care and child care jobs to be valued for the first time in this nation's history. Paid $15 and allow those women to be able to bargain together for a better life through a union. It's fair to say we've all been just reminded how valuable all of these people are and how needed they are. I applaud you wanting to appreciate them, not just with pots being banged. International president of the services employees international union, Mary Kay Henry, thank you for being with us today. Thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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