Lexington needs a raise! Members organize for wage increase

Raise the Wage rally

Lexington Fayette County Urban Government is considering raising the minimum wage and the Central Kentucky KFTC Chapter has been hard at work moving the campaign forward. 

The ordinance being considered would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 for hourly employees and $3.09 for tipped workers. Both rates of pay would be increased over a period of three years. 

After three years, the minimum wage rate would be tied to inflation. 

Raise the Wage rally

KFTC members along with allies have lobbied nine of the 15 Lexington Fayette Urban County Council members to share testimony, discuss the benefits of raising the wage, and to ask for support on the local ordinance. 

“My experience with lobbying has been mixed,” said Central Kentucky member Sharon Murphy. “I like council members who are open to have these meetings. However, at times I feel they try to dodge the bullet. You work for the people, take a stance on an issue and stop kicking the can. It’s your job to make the tough decisions.”

On May 15, KFTC members and allies gathered at Triangle Park in downtown Lexington to rally in support of raising the wage. More than 50 community members rallied holding signs saying, “Can’t Survive on $7.25”, “Raise the Wage!” and “Do the Right Thing Lexington City Council,” among many other slogans. Drivers passing by during rush hour traffic honked horns and waved, showing support for the movement. 

“Raising the minimum wage is of vital importance to our community,” said Janet Tucker, a long-time KFTC member. “I think the rally demonstrated the support we have in our community both in the attendance and the support of passers by. This is an issue which touches the lives of so many.”

Raise the Wage rally

Communications has been a big element of the chapter’s strategy. CKY KFTC members have published various op-eds and letters to the editor in the Lexington Herald-Leader and have been interviewed for other local news outlets. 

TOPOS, a national research and communications ally, offered a training on the most effective communications strategies to use when talking about the campaign to raise the minimum wage. 

The training attracted KFTC members along with an array of allies, including members of Central Kentucky Council for Peace and Justice, Kentucky Center for Economic Policy, University of Kentucky students, and labor attorneys among others. The wide swath of individuals and organizations represented at these trainings is a strong indication of the strength of support this issue has from the community. 

For now, along with continuing to lobby, rally and speak out, the chapter and allies are working on getting local businesses to sign on in support of raising the minimum wage. Local businesses like Morris Bookshop and West Sixth Brewery have already signed on and vocalized their support for the ordinance. 

If you are interested in becoming involved in the CKY chapter’s campaign to raise the minimum wage, contact Beth Howard or call 859-276-0563.

Check out more photos from our Raise the Wage rally on Flickr! 

The Center for Community Change, Lake Research Partners and ASO Communications put out a study called “Putting Families First: Good Jobs For All” about the most effective messaging around raising the wage.

Here’s a summary of important frames from this study:

  • The importance of family: every working parent should be paid enough to care for their children and ensure their children a bright future.

  • Ending discrimination for all people: we must provide work that has benefits and pay that can sustain a family, provided to everyone and anyone willing to work regardless or race and gender.

  • Out of Balance: our economic rules unfairly favor the wealthy. Everyone who works should be able to make ends meet and have a say about their futures. Everyone who wants to work should be granted a decent job with benefits.

  • The U.S. is a nation of strivers: we are a nation of people working hard to make ends meet, offer our children a better future and support our elders. The U.S. has come through tough times before and will do it again. We can improve our jobs by guaran -teeing good wages and benefits while also creating new jobs that sustain our fami -lies by meeting needs for infrastructure, education, childcare and a better future. 

  • Our country’s strength is grounded in our ability to work together: our society is at its best when we grant every provider the opportunity to pursue their dreams. That means we need to create good jobs. The U.S. succeeds when everyone is paid enough to care for his or her family, when every entrepreneur has the tools to make their vision a reality, and when every person can retire in dignity.

How To Talk About Raising the Wage: Lexington Needs A Raise!

Supporters know that they need to communicate the need to raise the minimum wage effectively. There are opportunities daily to talk about this issue to family, friends, neighbors, business owners and many others in the community. 

KFTC brought in TOPOS for the training, and also is using research from other groups, such as Center for Community Change, to become better educated on the language that is best used when talking about raising the wage. 

There are a variety of ways to talk about raising the minimum wage and here are a few tips and suggestions based on research shared at the training. 

According to TOPOS, one of the most effective ways to talk about the importance of raising the minimum wage is to focus on the concept of community. The campaign is not just about individual, isolated people but also about community and interconnectedness. This campaign is about creating the Lexington that we all want to live in – a Lexington that thrives and has a healthy local economy. 

People cannot sustain a healthy economy in this community on low wages. People should not have to work so hard to afford the basic necessities in life. And, the more money people make, the more money they spend in the local economy. As one business owner put it, “My employees are someone else’s customers.” In short, Lexington needs a raise! 

Also importance is people telling their own stories and connecting their personal story to the frames that are recommended by TOPOS and Center for Community Change. 

KFTC has a history of working with members to uncover their personal stories and to share those stories in order to effect change and create the kind of Kentucky we all want to see. It’s a good practice to take one’s personal story and use these frames to shape and enhance that story so that it resonates with people from all points of view. 

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