Raising Wages, Raising Hell

| July/August 2002 Issue

New Orleans voters in February approved a living-wage referendum that raises the minimum wage for some 75,000 private-sector employees to $6.15 an hour, a dollar over the federal minimum wage, reports Jim Hightower in The Nation (April 1, 2002). Opponents are appealing the move in the courts, but even if they are able to overturn it, says union organizer Wade Rathke, the victory has already been won. "There’s a step in people’s walk that wasn’t there before," he says. "They’ve learned that they have power, and their attitude is ‘we can beat you again.’ This is what the business guys are really worried about."