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Capitol protesters demand $15 minimum wage

Cheyna Roth
Velma Cornelius (center) says she has been fighting to raise the minimum wage for seven years.

A higher minimum wage was the demand of protestors at the state Capitol Monday. They want Governor Rick Snyder and the state Legislature to boost the state wage from $8.50 an hour, to $15 an hour.

They called the current minimum wage a "slave wage."

Velma Cornelius is a child care worker. She says she makes $9.50 an hour and has been working to increase the minimum wage for the last seven years. 

“Because you can’t raise no shorty on nine-forty,” she said. “And you can’t survive, off of ten-forty-five.”

Before the group marched to Snyder’s office, speakers that ranged from pastors to minimum wage workers spoke out in favor of increasing the minimum wage. 

One familiar face was Henrietta Ivey. Ivey is a Detroit home care worker who met Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during a campaign stop and later spoke at the Democratic National Convention.


Credit Cheyna Roth / MPRN
Reverend W.J. Rideout III talks to protesters after meeting with some of Gov. Rick Snyder’s staff.

“We need a livable wage everybody. We need to get out, we need to fight for this,” she said. “We need to go to our communities and we need to tell our neighbors, our friends, our families that this fight is real.”

The group tried to give Snyder a “moral declaration” when they marched across the street to the Romney Building, where Snyder’s office is located. Protest organizers said the declaration addresses access to health care and racial justice, as well as what they say is the minimum wage necessary to live.

Snyder was not available, but a small group of faith leaders and workers did meet with two staff members. 

Reverand W.J. Rideout III, who led the protest, said they would be meeting with the governor soon.

“We’re tired of not paying the teachers, not paying the health care workers, not paying child care workers, not paying fast food workers proper livable wages,” he said in a speech after meeting with Snyder’s staff.

Snyder’s office says the group will likely have to take up their issue with the Legislature.