Schumer Remarks at Fight for $15 Rally

April 26, 2017

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today delivered remarks in support of legislation raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Below are his remarks:

Thank you, thank you and I want to thank my colleagues Senator Sanders and Senator Murray for being here. I want to thank all of you for being here. I want to say hello to CWA, my mother-in-law was in CWA and they got her good health care, good wages, and a good pension before she passed away.

Now, today is the 97th day of the Trump presidency. What has he done for working families of America? Nada.

How’s that? 

The president ran on a promise he’d stick up for the American worker. He tried to talk like a different kind of Republican, who might be willing to work with Democrats on issues that help working Americans and their families like all of you.

But instead, the president has spent the first 100 days governing from the far right on behalf of powerful and special interests, breaking his promise to the working people of America, the forgotten men and women as he called them, and he has forgotten them.

It sure didn’t take long for the president to forget them.

So we’re here today to say that Democrats in Congress have not forgotten about you. We’re going to fight like hell to improve your lives, because that’s our job, and that’s the job of the president.

So, while President Trump might not be doing much to stand up for working families, you can bet Democrats in Congress are going to fight to make $15 minimum wage a reality in this nation, from one end of the country to the other.

It’s shameful, but as we speak, Republicans are trying to give massive tax cuts to the uber-wealthy, while consistently standing in the way of giving some of the hardest working Americans a long overdue raise.

$15 isn’t going to make anybody rich. But it’s at least going to let people live a life of dignity. Every American who works hard is entitled to just that. And it’s not just about a number—it’s about respect for working people. This is a case of economic justice.

In 2014, I had the privilege of having as my guest a woman name Shareeka Elliott - she worked as an airport cleaner at JFK airport. She cleaned toilets. She woke up, she went to work at night, six p.m. she got on a bus, there was no subway that went from her house in East New York over to Kennedy airport. It took her about two hours to get there. She’d get there at eight, and she’d clean toilets all night.  And she didn’t even get eight hours of wages - they said they wanted her to take an hour off for lunch at midnight, she said “I don’t need lunch, I’d rather work or go home early.” She couldn’t.

Well, she made eight dollars an hour. In the old days those jobs were unionized and they paid at least - it’s not a great job, it’s a job that’s important - and they paid people good wages because they were important, but what they’ve done at all the airports like they’ve done at so many other places is they’ve contracted these jobs out, just like the nice lady from Erie - Dorothy - was saying, there she is, and now they make next to nothing.

You know - Shareeka, so she works all night, at four in the morning she gets back on a bus, two hours home, she has two young daughters, she gets them ready for school, gets them to go to school, comes home and sleeps for three, four hours.

She said to me, “Mr. Schumer, if I had $15 an hour, if I had $15 an hour when we passed a McDonald’s I might be able to take my kids in once or twice. I might be able to buy them at least one present for Christmas. But on $8 an hour I can’t afford any of those things.”

This is not just an economic issue, although a minimum wage of  $15 will raise our economy. It’s an issue of fairness, it’s an issue of justice, it’s an issue of what America is all about.

So we are going to fight for the Shareekas of the world. Democrats are going to stop nibbling around the edges. We’re going to fight across the board for bold legislation that will help the working people of America live better lives.

Thank you for being here. We are going to win this fight and God bless America. Thank you very much everybody.