Local Women Leaders Push For Minimum Wage Increase

- ROCKFORD - Nearly two thirds of all minimum wage workers are women, putting most of them below the poverty line.

Congresswoman Cheri Bustos talked with Rockford women leaders, who are fed up with unfair and low wages, and think the minimum wage needs to change.  “people should not be working full time and still have to live in poverty, and I think raising the minimum wage is part of that answer.” Said Congresswoman Bustos.

The group also discussed unfair wages, stating that women are paid less than men, oftentimes for the same job.  “i want to make sure that people know that there is a pay discrepancy in 2014, woman on average make .77 cents for every dollar that a man makes. even for the exact same work, and we think there is a problem with that”

Supporters of raising the minimum wage say it could help bridge that economic gap, while also boosting the local economy.  “for every dollar that the minimum wage goes up, people spend an additional $2,800 over the course of the year in the community.” said Congresswoman Bustos.

Polly Matranga Happach and Lorie Parker-Weinrich, the owners of Bella Luna Bakery in Rockford are ahead of most large retailers, because they already pay their all woman staff, $10.10 an hour.  “we do not understand why the big corporations do not pay the higher wages. they make way more money than we do, their cash flow is enormous compared to us. we pay the $10.10 an hour because it is the right thing to do, and it is the fair thing to do.”

Polly Matranga Happach said this small wage increase will help people buy the necessities they need.  “it is grocery money, it is gas money, of course this wage increase will help woman. half of Rockford is single mothers, and i can not tell you how many people come in to my store looking for a minimum wage job, so that they can pay the bills.”

However, a recent report from the United States Government Accountability center said that raising the minimum wage nationally could cost as many as 500,000 jobs. This is one of the reasons the proposal is stalled in Congress.

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