WAMU 88.5 : News

Filed Under:

D.C. Mayoral Contender To Live Off Of Minimum Wage For A Week

Wells, who currently makes $130,000, will have to survive on $98 for food and transportation this week.
Patrick Madden/WAMU
Wells, who currently makes $130,000, will have to survive on $98 for food and transportation this week.

D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) is taking on a new challenge today: he says he'll live off of what minimum wage workers make for a week.

Wells, who is also running for mayor, will announce this afternoon that he'll keep himself to a budget that aligns with the city's minimum hourly wage of $8.25. That means that he'll spend only $98.28 on food and transportation, which is what he has estimated minimum wage workers have available after paying off bills and housing expenses.

“I can’t imagine the reality of the daily struggles D.C. minimum wage earners face,” Wells said in a statement. “Just observing someone else's difficulty does not compare to consciously altering your habits to better understand what it might be like to wear someone else’s shoes.”

As a legislator, Wells currently makes $130,000; if elected mayor, his pay would increase to $200,000.

The D.C. Council recently gave initial approval to a bill that would increase the city's minimum wage to $11.50 by 2016, which would be the highest rate in the country. According to legislators, raising the minimum wage would help residents earn enough without having to rely on certain social services like food stamps.

Still, a minimum wage of $11.50 would still leave many families struggling for housing. According to the Economic Policy Institute, a family of three in D.C. needs to earn $34.81 per hour — just over $72,000 per year — in order to attain a modest standard of living.

Chebon Marshall, a campaign spokesman for Wells, said that the week-long effort was aimed at drawing attention the ongoing fight for a higher minimum wage, primarily the fact that the Council has to vote on the bill a second time and Mayor Vincent Gray will have to sign it. Gray has said that he favors a minimum wage of $10.

Wells won't be the first elected official to attempt to live off of what the some of the city's poorest make: in 2012 Council member Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3) spent a week living on $30 for groceries, roughly what recipients of food stamps get. In July, New York mayor-elect Bill De Blasio took part in the minimum wage challenge.

NPR

Comic-Con Has Become Poké-Con

At this year's San Diego Comic-Con, one of the biggest phenomena isn't just inside the convention center, it's all around: Swarms of people staring at their phones as they play Pokémon Go.
NPR

Scraped, Splattered — But Silent No More. Finally, The Dinner Plate Gets Its Say

Instagram is the Internet's semi-obsessive, borderline-creepy love letter to food. But behind every great meal is a plate doing a pretty-OK job. So a comedian made an Instagram to celebrate plates.
NPR

4 Reasons Why Progressives Aren't Thrilled With Clinton's Pick Of Kaine

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine's positions on Wall Street reforms and trade deals are already drawing the ire of groups who had backed Clinton's primary rival Bernie Sanders.
NPR

Making The Cloud Green: Tech Firms Push For Renewable Energy Sources

Few people can demand what kind of electricity they get. But Microsoft and Facebook, which operate huge, power-hungry data centers, are trying to green up the electricity grid with their buying power.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.