June 13, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

Women Fasting Outside Los Angeles City Hall For Higher Wages

courtesy image
courtesy image

More than a dozen women fasting outside Los Angeles City Hall for the past two weeks marched into the City Council meeting today to push for a citywide $15 minimum wage.

Gilda Valdez, president of the $15 per hour minimum wage campaign launched by the labor union Service Employees International Union, told the council that the women have taken drastic measures “because only in extreme situations do people resort to such extreme tactics” as fasting.

“The fact that we have more than 48 percent of workers in Los Angeles under $15 an hour, and we have of that, two-thirds are women” who must “choose whether they are going to feed themselves or feed their children in Los Angeles, is just simply not okay,” Valdez said.

Mayor Eric Garcetti, who proposed raising the minimum wage to $13.25 per hour, paid the women a visit today and said he would try to work with them to get the wage to $15 per hour, according to Valdez.

The council is currently debating Garcetti’s plan, as well as a more ambitious one pushed by some members of the panel of raising the wage to $15.25 per hour by 2019.

The women have gathered daily outside City Hall since April 16 and gone without food to get city leaders to pass an ordinance that would raise the city’s minimum wage from $9 to $15 an hour.

One of the fasters, 56-year-old Denise Barlage, said she was laid off from a Wal-Mart in Pico Rivera that suddenly shuttered recently, after working nine years for the company.

Barlage, who has been subsisting on water and tea, said she has “three children, one of them in college” who will need to pay off student loans.

“This is their future, too, and if we don’t do something now, the young people’s futures are in dire straits,” she said.

The fast is set to end tomorrow, but Barlage said she will soon travel to Sacramento to push for a statewide increase to the minimum wage, and she may continue fasting once a week until a minimum wage hike is adopted.

Eight women began the fast, and the core group grew to 15. They have also been joined by other fasters who stay for a single day to show their solidarity, according to Coral Itzcalli, spokeswoman for SEIU.

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