Raleigh, N.C. — The "Moral Monday" protest movement returned to the General Assembly on Wednesday, with at least 10 demonstrators winding up in zip-tie handcuffs as they tried to disrupt the legislature.
The crowd of protesters was much smaller than two weeks ago, when Moral Monday organizers launched their third year of demonstrations against the Republican-led agenda in the General Assembly.
On Wednesday, they called on lawmakers to raise the minimum wage in North Carolina to $10 an hour, noting 29 other states have pegged their wages higher than the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour. They also pushed for other "economic justice" measures, such as expanding union rights and restoring the Earned Income Tax Credit.
Gene Nichol, a professor at the UNC School of Law and an advocate on poverty issues, said 60 percent of the jobs created in North Carolina since the recession pay poverty-level wages.
Most low-wage workers "aren't after big government programs," Nichol said. "They want wages they can live on in exchange for a difficult and demanding day's work. They want to have a chance to advance and make economic progress."
Kwanzaa Brooks, a single mother of three from Charlotte, said she works three minimum-wage jobs to make ends meet.
"It is very hard out here," Brooks said. "(Lawmakers) need to listen to folks like me, the ones that are working these long hours."
The protesters "inducted" Gov. Pat McCrory, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore into what they called the Hall of Shame for advocating policies that benefit businesses at the expense of their workers.