$15 Minimum Wage Backers Hold Labor Day Rally At Milwaukee Hospital

Fight For 15 Movement Tries To Include All Hospital Workers

Chuck Quirmbach/WPR

Some hospital workers have joined the national push to have a $15 per hour minimum wage and make it easier for all workers join a union.

The Fight for 15 movement has usually centered on fast food employees and home health care workers. But on Labor Day, at least 200 people marched through downtown Milwaukee promoting the movement for a variety of low-wage workers.

Outside a health care center, hospital housekeeper Margie Brelove said she doesn’t make $15 an hour, but would like to.

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“I’m barely making ends meet. I can’t pay bills, or I’m short paying bills. Something’s lacking because there’s not enough income coming in,” Brelove said.

Family physician Dr. Cynthia Haq also spoke at the rally. Haq said raising pay for hospital housekeepers and other low-wage workers would benefit the health care system.

“If all workers are earning a basic living wage, they’re able to purchase health care coverage. Then, they don’t have to go to the emergency department when they have trivial problems that could be cared for in a primary health care setting at a fraction of the cost,” Haq said, adding that unnecessary use of emergency care drives up costs for everyone.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and some other politicians say they don’t want to raise the state minimum wage because it’s better to help create jobs that pay well above the minimum. But Haq argues many people across Wisconsin can’t get those better-paying jobs and, in the meantime, need health care and other basics.