Demonstrators call for $15 minimum wage

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Demonstrators in cities across the country called for a $15 minimum wage and the right to unionize Nov. 10 during a National Day of Action.

Protesters also were present at the evening debate of Republican presidential candidates in Milwaukee. Inside the Milwaukee Theatre, candidates Donald Trump, Ben Carson and Marco Rubio, when asked by one of the moderators, said they do not support a minimum wage increase because they believe it ultimately would hurt low-income workers.

Earlier Nov. 10, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders joined protesters in Washington, D.C. And New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an order raising the minimum for state government workers from an hourly rate of $8.75 to $15 beginning in 2018.

The day before, California healthcare workers announced that they had collected 500,000 signatures for a statewide initiative that would gradually raise the state's minimum wage to $15 by 2021. California's minimum wage, currently $9 an hour, is set to increase to $10 on Jan. 1.

In the healthcare realm, skilled nursing and home care employees were singled out by the Service Employees International Union. "A disturbing corporate trend in the nursing home industry shows that long-term care facilities are being bought by private investors, who are putting profit before the mission of providing quality care," says a posting on a union local's website. "This business model, purchasing nursing homes for equity and then reducing employee wages and benefits to turn a profit, has had serious consequences. The employees cannot support themselves and their families with substandard wages and without economic security. They are forced to work elsewhere, creating short staffing — a major problem with serious consequences for workers and their frail and elderly residents."

Home care workers were cited because more jobs are being shifted from hospitals and outpatient settings to the home, the union said in another posting.

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