White House To Honor Champions Of "Raise The Wage" Campaign
On Tuesday, July 22, the White House will honor local “Champions of Change,” leaders and ordinary Americans taking action to raise wages for working women and men around the country.
The honorees are activists, advocates, business owners and workers who are looking to reestablish the basic promise that no American working 40 hours a week should have to live in poverty.
These Champions distinguished themselves through their community involvement, hard work and sacrifice. This event will showcase these inspirational leaders and highlight the importance of providing all Americans with the dignity of a decent wage.
The Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. The event will be live streamed on the White House website. To watch this event live, visit www.whitehouse.gov/live.
To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program, visit www.whitehouse.gov/champions.
Bene’t Holmes, Riverdale, IL
Bene't Holmes is an advocate, leader and a mother. She works for Walmart and is paid $8.75 an hour. Bene't is involved with the movement “Respect the Bump,” which calls for a stronger policy for pregnant workers and will allow them to work while protecting their health. Benet has been calling for the company to publicly commit to paying a minimum of $25,000 a year, providing full time work and ending the company's illegal retaliation against workers who are speaking out for better jobs.
Saru Jayaraman, Oakland, CA
Saru Jayaraman is the Co-Founder and Co-Director of Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC) and Director of the Food Labor Research Center at UC Berkeley. After 9/11, together with displaced World Trade Center workers, she co-founded ROC in New York. ROC organizes restaurant workers to win workplace justice campaigns, conduct research and policy work, partner with responsible restaurants, and launch cooperatively-owned restaurants. Saru graduated from Yale Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She also authored national bestseller, Behind the Kitchen Door.
Naquasia LeGrand, Brooklyn, NY
Naquasia LeGrand has emerged as a leader in the growing movement to achieve a living wage for all fast food workers. Although she has been employed at a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Brooklyn, New York for more than three years, Naquasia still earns the New York State minimum wage of $8.00 per hour and struggles to make ends meet. Since joining the first ever strike of 200 fast food workers in New York City in November 2012, Naquasia has worked tirelessly to organize fellow fast food workers around the country, encouraging them to stand up for their rights and for a better life for their families.
Christine Owens, Washington, DC
Christine Owens is Executive Director of the National Employment Law Project (NELP), a leading workers’ rights advocacy organization that brings research and organizing support to lift wages and improve jobs for all of America’s workers. Guided by the belief that anyone who works for a living should earn a decent living from work, Christine’s leadership at NELP played major roles in the federal minimum wage campaigns of the past two decades. This started with the coalition that won the 1996 increase and extending to coordination of the current campaign to raise the federal minimum wage to a historic high of more than $10.00 an hour.
Lew Prince, St. Louis, MO
Lew Prince is co-owner and Managing Partner of Vintage Vinyl Inc. in St. Louis and a longtime spokesperson for Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, a network of business owners and executives who believe a fair minimum wage makes good business sense. Lew played an influential role in the successful campaigns to raise the Missouri minimum wage in 2006 and to pass the last federal minimum wage in 2007. He continues to be a leader in Business for a Fair Minimum Wage efforts to raise the minimum wage today. He has testified both in the Missouri Legislature and before U.S. Senate committees about the business case for raising the minimum wage.
Karla Quezada, Arlington, VA
Karla Quezada is a leader in the Good Jobs Nation campaign, a campaign of low wage federal contract workers standing up and demanding changes at their work places. After working 6 years for Subway inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Building, Karla and her co-workers decided to stand up and raise their voices to fight against wage theft and other abuses. After going on strike 7 times during 2013, Karla and her colleagues filed a wage theft complaint with the Department of Labor and garnered enough attention to their struggle that President Obama announced an executive order to raise the wages of federal contract workers like Karla and her colleagues to $10.10 an hour.
David Rolf, Seattle, WA
David Rolf is the President of the Seattle-based Local 775 of the Service Employees International Union, the fastest growing union the Northwest representing 43,000 home care and nursing home workers in Washington state and Montana. He also serves as an International Vice President of the Service Employees International Union. Rolf, 44, has led some of the largest organizing efforts since the 1930s. He helped organize 75,000 care givers in Los Angles in 1999 and led the campaign to raise wages to $15 in SeaTac, Washington, in 2013, the first successful $15 ballot initiative. In 2014, David co-chaired Seattle’s Income Inequality Advisory Committee (IIAC). The IIAC was the group entrusted by Mayor Ed Murray to formulate what would become Seattle’s historic $15 wage ordinance, which will raise wages for more than 100,000 workers.
Paul Saginaw, Ann Arbor, MI
Paul Saginaw is Co-Founder and Chief Spiritual Officer (CSO), of Zingerman’s Community of Businesses. The “community” is a network of 9 brand-connected, owner-operated run businesses that are permanently rooted in Ann Arbor. Some highlights of the Zingerman’s culture include good wages, health benefits, paid time-off, classes on open book finance for all employees, and a Community Chest fund built from profits to meet employees’ emergency financial needs. With Zingerman’s as its sponsor, Paul founded a nonprofit food rescue program, Food Gatherers, which currently provides 7 tons of nutritious food daily to agencies countywide, serving as a board member for 25 years and now as Director Emeritus.
Rafael Sanchez, Los Angeles, CA
Rafael Sanchez III is the second child of immigrants from Mexico. For as long as he can remember, Rafael has wanted to be a teacher. He comes from a family of educators and sees teaching as a way to give back to his community. Currently, he is a Degree Track Teacher’s Assistant at Bell High School in the Los Angeles Unified School District. He has worked for the school district for 10 years and earns $10.74 an hour. He is currently a student at California State University, Los Angeles, majoring in history for his secondary credential. The recession, furlough days and stagnant wages have interfered with his dream. It has been difficult to finish his studies. That is why Rafael joined with others in his union, Service Employees International Union Local 99, to fight for and win, a $15 minimum wage. Rafael was part of the bargaining team that negotiated this landmark contract agreement with the second largest school district in the nation.