The following is from a speech given by Alamance NAACP President Barrett Brown at an ANAACP press conference at Burlington City Hall, on November 10, 2015.
“Today, I want to thank our allies in justice for attending and speaking out for fair wages and labor reform. The NAACP is proud to partner with the Raise Up for $15 movement and proud to be standing alongside underpaid people across the country as we appeal to our brothers and sisters who head corporations to raise wages so that people can support their families.
Malicha asked more than two thousand years ago “What does the lord require?’ The answer, “To do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with the Lord”. There is a resounding echo in our ears to resist the temporal urge to steadily increase profit shares at the expense of those who are living at the margins. To most corporations, the minimum wage is not the most they can pay employees and make a profit. More often it means, “If we could pay you less, we would.” Corporations are paying 42 percent of working people less than $15 and hour, while the top executives make billions. That means the economy is way out of balance. Raising wages will give a boost to local families and make the economy work for all of us, not just the wealthy.
Many workers who work 40 or more hours a week cannot provide for their families with any degree of security. We ask for a fair deal, so that the “American Dream” will become a reality for every American. If one does an honest day’s work, one should receive an honest day’s wage. If you work hard and apply yourself then you should be able to provide for your family and provide your children with even greater opportunities. Wages have remained stagnant for years, hurting families, communities and the economy. This disproportionately and negatively affect black and brown people, the elderly and women who head households.
Furthermore, we say today that working people, by means of a union, should have the right to stick together so that they can be heard just as corporate entities forge lobbies to assert their collective influence. We are sick and tired of corporations and the wealthy having so much power that they can manipulate the rules in their favor. A seat at the bargaining table should not be reserved only for those who can afford the high cost of entry.
And finally, we are assembled on the municipal steps a year from Election Day. We are standing up as voters to say we’re with the 42 percent who make less than $15 an hour. We will vote to make our government and our community work for everyone, not just the rich. Elections have consequences and we are here to declare with boldness to our elected officials, “We are your constituents and our votes matter!” We are calling on our elected official to make sure underpaid workers have a fair shot at the American Dream.”