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Johnson County Residents Protest Minimum Wage Bill

Handi Lutfi speaks at minimum wage rally
Katarina Sostaric

A crowd gathered in downtown Iowa City Wednesday to protest a bill that would reverse minimum wage increases in four Iowa counties.

Protesters chanted, “Can’t survive on $7.25,” because the minimum wage would be set back to the federal and state level of $7.25. Johnson County’s minimum wage is currently $10.10 an hour.

Handi Lutfi said when Johnson County raised its minimum wage, her family’s income was brought above the poverty line.

“They are going to lower the minimum wage, and this is going to affect me and my family," Lutfi said. "[If] they lower the minimum wage, they will bring us back into poverty."

A bill in the legislature that prohibits local governments from raising the minimum wage would also reverse increases in Linn, Polk and Wapello counties. 

Protesters marched to a Sheraton hotel and a Wells Fargo bank branch to demand that they revoke support for the bill. Both businesses are members of associations that support lowering the minimum wage.

Mazahir Salih speaks to protesters
Credit Katarina Sostaric / IPR
Mazahir Salih speaks to protesters in Iowa City Wednesday, March 8, 2017.

Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa President Mazahir Salih said she fought for a long time to raise the minimum wage in Johnson County.

“The members are low-wage workers who work two jobs or three jobs, and they don’t have time to raise their kids," Salih said. "And this means if the minimum wage increases, they can eliminate one of the jobs.”

The bill making the statewide minimum wage binding in all counties is currently in the Iowa House.