MLK Day Living Wage Rally

Tompkins County Workers' Center director Pete Meyers and friends stand outside the Starbucks at Seneca and Tioga streets to demonstrate for a living wage. Jan. 18, 2016.

The Tompkins County Workers' Center sent picketers to 15 fast food restaurants on Monday afternoon, Martin Luther King Day 2016.

The purpose of these "vigils" was threefold, according to Workers' Center director Pete Meyers. First, to remind minimum wage employees they received a pay bump on Jan. 1, when the statewide fast food minimum wage was raised to $9.75. Secondly, to continue building the "groundswell" for a living wage in Tompkins County, and also to honor Martin Luther King and his "commitment to working people."

Meyers, who was standing on the corner of Seneca and Tioga streets outside Starbucks, said that he was getting calls an hour before the vigils began at 3:30 p.m. to ask if the snow squalls would put off the demonstration.

"It'll be fine," Meyers said he told the concerned, and indeed, by 4 p.m., the heavily blowing snow of the earlier afternoon had cleared. Several quotes from Dr. King were included in the press release for the event; the last one reads like this:

“Now the problem isn’t only unemployment. Do you know that most of the poor people in our country are working every day? They are making wages so low that they cannot begin to function in the mainstream of the economic life of our nation. These are facts which must be seen. And it is criminal to have people working on a full-time basis and a full-time job getting part-time income.”

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