Workers rally for $15 minimum wage

LAS VEGAS - Supporters of a higher minimum wage are spending their Labor Day protesting in Las Vegas.  They are demanding the government increase Nevada's minimum wage to $15 per hour.

The "Fight for $15" rally is spearheaded by union members and supported by fast food workers and some local politicians, including Democratic Congresswoman Dina Titus.

Today's rally started at 6 a.m. at a McDonald's on E Sahara Ave, near Paradise Rd.  Demonstrators planned to march down Las Vegas Boulevard later in the morning.  Protests are planned in 300 cities across the United States.

Fast food worker Harold Carnes painted the protest as a fight for fairness.

"Our families are struggling out here," said Carnes. "And we need that help."

Carnes said a single worker in Nevada would need to make $14.40 per hour to be self sufficient, but that many workers have to support other family members as well.

"The times have changed.  We are no longer children working in fast food," said Carnes. "The average age is 23 to 30 in fast food, because the economy has changed."

Nevada's minimum wage last increased in 2011 to $8.25 per hour ($7.25 if the business provides medical benefits), which is higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

Two attempts this year to raise the minimum wage failed in the legislature.  Gov. Sandoval vetoed a bill which would have increased the minimum wage $0.75 per year until it hit $12.  Another bill to raise the minimum wage to $15 also failed.

Recent studies suggest sudden and steep increases in the minimum wage could hurt businesses and low-paid, low-skilled workers.

Seattle is phasing in a $15 minimum wage; it currently stands at $11.  A study this year by the University of Washington found that pay in low-wage jobs is up about 3%, but those workers have seen a reduction of hours by about 9%.  The result is a 6% decrease in pay for workers, or about $125 less per month compared to 2014.


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