Durham Workers Continue To Rally For $15 An Hour

Jul 24, 2015

Niki Cannady, center, a long-time home care worker, rallied in downtown Durham to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Credit Leoneda Inge

From California to New York, a minimum wage increase to $15 an hour is becoming more of a reality.  Durham workers rallied Thursday in support.

Most of the people rallying outside a McDonald’s restaurant in Downtown Durham were longtime home care and child care workers, like Tolanda Barnette.   Barnette says after more than a decade of working in child care in North Carolina, she still only makes $10 an hour.

“We do the hardest and the most work in the child care center and we are the least and most underpaid," said Barnette.

Niki Cannady participated in the rally.  She has worked in the home care industry for more than 20 years, since she graduated from high school.   Cannady says she specializes in everything from G-tube stomach feedings to play time therapy and still hasn't climbed the pay ladder to $15 an hour. 

“I feel a lot of people don’t know because when you think of what we do, home care workers, you think oh, they’re making money.   But at the background, they just don’t know we’re not," said Cannady.  "But if you love what you do you will stick to it, regardless of the money or not.”

The movement to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for mainly fast food workers picked up steam more than two years ago.  This week the University of California System announced it would phase in the higher wage over three years.  And a wage panel in New York recommended this week that fast food workers across the state be paid $15 an hour.  Barnette says it gives her hope.

“With the momentum that has picked up, more people have joined together.  And with numbers there is power, I am a firm believer of that," said Barnette.

A wage increase to $15 an hour for home care workers was recently approved in Massachusetts.