Workers rally against controversial wage bill

Dozens gathered for a rally against a minimum-wage-capping bill on Saturday.
Dozens gathered for a rally against a minimum-wage-capping bill on Saturday.(John Grinvalds)
Published: Mar. 19, 2023 at 10:43 AM CDT|Updated: Mar. 19, 2023 at 10:57 AM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - Taking a step back—that was the theme at the Belmont Community Center on Saturday.

That’s something organizers against LB327, which was spliced together with lb15 in committee, say the bill will do by keeping the minimum wage at $10.50 for workers between the ages of 14 and 17.

“This bill directly effects me,” 16-year-old Sam Washburn said.

Washburn is a junior at Papillion La Vista who works in the service industry. He said he wasn’t particularly political until he found out about the bill.

“When nearly 60% of Nebraskans vote in favor of Initiative 455 and then seeing that directly affecting me and sub-trainees to create a lower sub-minimum wage,” he said. “It’s an outrage.” 

The bill would also cap future increases in the minimum wage, which is supposed to grow with inflation after it reaches $15 an hour in 2026. This bill would cap that growth at 1.5%.

“Whenever we vote to pay someone more, to offer people more money or to take money away from someone, we show our value of those people,” said Rev. Zac Wolfe, who’s a tri-chair of the Nebraska Poor People’s Campaign.

State senator Jane Raybould, who recently prioritized LB327, said the bill aims to balance between the increase improved by voters and the interests of small and medium-sized businesses. 

Washburn said no matter what happens on the legislature floor this session, he plans on keeping the fight going, doing what he can to advocate for himself and his peers.