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VOL. 129 | NO. 49 | Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Tennessee Workers Seek Higher Minimum Wage

LUCAS L. JOHNSON II | Associated Press

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NASHVILLE (AP) – A coalition of close to 200 workers rallied on the steps of the state Capitol on Tuesday to speak out on issues ranging from increasing Tennessee's minimum wage to supporting public schools.

Following the rally about 30 of the protesters delivered a letter expressing their concerns to the office of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam.

Thomas Walker is a member of the United Campus Workers, one of about 24 organizations that are part of the coalition. He helped draft the letter, which stressed raising the state's minimum wage, one of the coalition's main concerns.

Currently, Tennessee's minimum wage is $7.25. A Democratic sponsored legislative proposal to raise it a dollar in the case of employers who don't offer health benefits failed in a House subcommittee last month.

Despite the measure's failure, Walker said his union is pushing for $12.50 an hour, which includes a living wage.

"We don't think that a minimum wage is enough to survive off of unless it's a living wage," he said. "And that's why we think $12.50 is the bare minimum that they should raise the wage to."

Protester Kyle Kordsmeier traveled from Memphis, where a living wage was killed last year.

"We as taxpayers are subsidizing poverty whenever we let people get away with paying poverty wages," said Kordsmeier, who is part of the Workers Interfaith Network.

The protesters also said the state should give more financial support to public schools, rather than vouchers – or so-called "opportunity scholarships" – which give parents the option to move a child from a failing public school to a private school, with the state providing funds for tuition.

Haslam has a proposal to create a school voucher program in Tennessee. He and some Republican lawmakers, who proposed a broader version of the legislation, are close to reaching a compromise.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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RECORD TOTALS DAY WEEK YEAR
PROPERTY SALES 56 212 11,977
MORTGAGES 68 295 15,645
FORECLOSURE NOTICES 23 80 3,103
BUILDING PERMITS 0 606 28,832
BANKRUPTCIES 81 291 11,598
BUSINESS LICENSES 29 102 4,257
UTILITY CONNECTIONS 89 428 17,611
MARRIAGE LICENSES 20 81 3,645

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