Kristina McClure goes to work every day to support herself and her two children. But instead of coming home after a hard day’s work to her two kids, Kristina comes home to an empty house. Why? Because, as a minimum wage worker who only earns $7.25 an hour, Kristina had to ask her parents to take care of her kids because she can’t afford to raise them by herself. Kristina isn’t alone. Nearly two million hardworking Virginians only make $7.25 an hour, and they all struggle to stay afloat, often making difficult and heartbreaking decisions about how to spend what little money they do have. Everyone—including minimum wage workers—should be able to work hard and raise a family with dignity.
Like Kristina, Jackie Short also earns minimum wage. Her job at a fast food restaurant gives her full-time hours, but not full-time pay. Watch her explain her perspective on raising the minimum wage below.
That’s why, every year during the legislative session, activists and people like Kristina and Jackie come to Richmond and urge lawmakers to pass bills to increase the minimum wage. But every year, those bills are defeated by conservatives. And because the House of Delegate’s policy was to not publicly record who voted for what, it was hard for the public to hold lawmakers accountable.
But this year, something different happened. After the November elections, Virginia voters sent a clear message to conservatives that not only are they paying attention, but they are sick of the right-wing policies conservatives support. And thanks to projects like Eyes On Richmond and a new policy that all votes have to be recorded for the public to see, legislators know that their constituents are not only paying attention, but they’re fired up and ready to hold them accountable for their votes against popular bills.
So when minimum wage bills HB715 and HB518 were proposed, conservative lawmakers in the House of Delegates changed tactics to avoid having to vote against these popular bills and face the wrath of constituents.
These conservative elected officials decided to NOT VOTE AT ALL. That’s right. Our cowardly legislators refused to put both HB715 and HB518 on the docket, meaning that they flat out refused to even HEAR the arguments for and against these bills or vote on them. And they did all of this to hide their opposition to raising the minimum wage from their constituents.
While refusing to hold hearings for these bills may be a clever way for conservatives to avoid being held accountable, this isn’t how democracy works. Our representatives in the House of Delegates were elected to vote on all of the bills that are put in front of them, not pick and choose the ones they want to vote on. Join me in demanding that our representatives announce a clear position on raising the minimum wage so that we can hold them accountable come election time.