Member Voices: Tamera Cunningham, Touchette Hospital: “Raising the Minimum Wage to $15 is Only the Beginning to Giving Working Families Economic Stability and Justice

Tamera Cunningham, telephone operator at Touchette Hospital, speaks at our "protect safety net hospitals" in the State Capitol Rotunda Jan. 30th, 2018. Julianna Stratton stands to her right).

(Caption: Tamera Cunningham, a telephone operator at Touchette Hospital, speaks at our “protect safety net hospitals” rally in the State Capitol Rotunda on Jan. 30th, 2018. Julianna Stratton stands to the right).

We are please to post the following commentary by our member leader, Tamera Cunningham, at Touchette Hospital, submitted on Feb. 15th, 2019.

The fact that Illinois lawmakers passed a law to raise our state’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025 which Governor Pritzker campaigned on and is now signing into law, is nothing less than historic.

I am truly amazed that our elected officials delivered on their promise.

Despite the claims that raising the minimum wage will cost jobs is just plain wrong.

This minimum wage increase will give workers the ability to spend our hard-earned money back at our small businesses and jumpstart our local economy.

More money in our pockets will create even more jobs which is exactly what our region urgently needs. Ask any business owner in our area and they will tell you that what they need are customers with money to spend.

I have worked as a customer service rep and telephone operator at Touchette Hospital for nearly 18 years and yet I am still earning below $15 an hour.

SEIU_Healthcare_IL_Figiht_for_$15 (002)I have a son in college whom I am supporting and helping with his education. Because I earn so little I have to choose which bills I’m going to pay each month and which ones to put off, whether I pay my heat, fill up my gas tank or buy groceries.  I’m one of the people who this bill will help. But consider someone earning just $8.25 an hour?

Raising the minimum wage to $15 hour, although significant, is only one part of giving working families real stability and stop us from slipping in between the cracks of our broken economy.

In addition to lifting wages, our lawmakers and Governor must also work to lower the cost of healthcare, provide all families with paid sick time, expand home healthcare for seniors, and provide affordable child care for low-wage single moms and parents.

It is also essential that Illinois lawmakers enact the Fair Tax so that millionaires and billionaires will finally pay their fair share in income taxes in order to protect and expand our vital services. This must be an urgent priority.

We should take a moment to celebrate this huge victory but then get right back to work enacting real solutions that will empower working families and strengthen our communities!