First $15 minimum wage rally in Tacoma

by: Deborah Horne Updated:

The signs are all there that the push for a $15 minimum wage has come to the City of Destiny.

"We wanted to do something in Tacoma because Tacoma needs a raise, too."

A need so great, says Sarah Morken, a spokeswoman for $15 Now Tacoma, that some 50 people stood in a steady rain at Union Avenue and South 23rd in order to be heard.

"We think of this corner as like a trifecta of low-wage workers," said Morken. "You've got the Walmart. We got McDonalds, Starbucks, Target. There's just a lot of low-wage workers right here."

Tacoma has essentially watched the campaign for a $15 minimum wage from the sidelines as Seattle elected a socialist City Council member whose platform centered on the wage issue. The state's largest city has also rallied in support of what would amount to a 60 percent raise for the lowest paid workers.

"The politicians are not going to act until the people have spoken," longtime Tacoma activist Arthur Miller told the crowd. So these activists in Tacoma ignored the downpour to rally for themselves and their neighbors. They told stories of having to turn to welfare in order to live on the current $9.32 minimum wage, the highest in the nation.

"I'm a retail worker and I actually do live paycheck to paycheck," said Cana Caldwell, 21. "And most of my money goes to rent. And to eat, I get food stamps."

"Our tax dollars are going to subsidize these low wages and I think that's outrageous," said Phoenix Milligan of Tacoma. "Working people shouldn't need food stamps."

The activists say this is just the start. They are planning a public meeting at the Tacoma Public Library next weekend.