Poor People’s Campaign targets Manchin in drive for $15 minimum wage
Reverend William J. Barber, left, and the Poor People's Campaign will take the fight for a $15 minimum wage to the West Virginia office of Sen. Joe Manchin on Monday, Feb. 15. | AP

CHARLESTON, W.V.—The Moral Monday fight for a $15 per hour minimum wage is going to the streets next week as Rev. Dr. William Barber II will lead a group of poor and low-income people to march on the office of Sen. Joe Manchin.

Manchin, a conservative Democrat representing West Virginia, opposes including a $15 minimum wage in the COVID economic rescue package now being considered by Congress. When asked whether he would back raising wages in early February, Manchin answered with a flat “No.”

The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival is calling for people to join a socially distanced, in-person Moral Monday march in front of Manchin’s Charleston office on Feb. 15 at 3 p.m. EST. There will also be an online rally with supporters from across the nation to demand that any COVID relief bill passed by Congress raise the wage.

Minimum-wage workers in West Virginia and Rev. Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, will march and speak out about the dire need of 62 million people, including 40% of Black workers, who make less than a living wage.

While $15 per hour is not a living wage everywhere, the Campaign says it will still lift millions of people out of poverty and give them hope for a future that includes a roof over their heads, food on the table, and other necessities of life.

Rev. Dr. Liz Theoharis, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign, will join the program online as will workers from Montana and Arizona.

The Poor People’s Campaign argues that the demand for $15 per hour is as big a fight as the one for the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act in the 1960s. It says that the COVID economic rescue bill must include relief that helps the people who need it the most—the 140 million poor and low-income people who live in this country, a number that has only increased in a pandemic.

In West Virginia, 710,000 people are poor or low-income and across the South, not including West Virginia, that number is almost 50 million. The mandate for $15 per hour lies with the 55% of poor and low-income people who voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, not in the halls of Congress.

“Poor and low-income people were the first to return to work, the first to be infected, and the first to die in the pandemic, and they must not be last in line for relief. This administration and Congress must respect us, protect us and pay us,” according to a press advisory from the Poor People’s Campaign. “Poor and low-income people, who showed their power at the ballot box in the last election, can change political will because a moral, constitutional agenda is a sound economic agenda as well as we lay out in our 14 Policy Priorities to Heal the Nation: A Moral and Economic Agenda for the first 100 days.”

Nationally, more than 140 million poor and low-income people live in the United States or 43% of the country’s population, and that was before the COVID-19 pandemic. The Poor People’s Campaign, with organizing committees in 45 states, is building a moral fusion movement to address the five interlocking injustices of systemic racism, systemic poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and militarism, and a distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism. Its demands are reflected in its  Jubilee Platform. 


WHEN: 3 p.m. ET / noon PT Monday, Feb. 15.

WHERE: Sen. Joe Manchin’s office at 900 Pennsylvania Ave., Charleston, West Virginia, and also online at https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/livestream/.

For additional information: poorpeoplescampaign.org  https://youtu.be/PmOjcUoDhEs

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article misattributed a statement that was originally from a press advisory released by the Poor People’s Campaign. We apologize for the error.


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