Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Obama Visits Connecticut Campus, Makes Case For Raising Federal Minimum Wage

youthjournalism.org
With students behind him, President Barack Obama speaks Wednesday at Central Connecticut State University.

By Sherry Sah
Junior Reporter
NEW BRITAIN, Conn. – It’s time to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, President Barack Obama told a cheering, enthusiastic crowd at Central Connecticut State University today.
“Too many Americans are working harder than ever just to keep up,” Obama said. “Nobody that works full time should ever have to raise a family in poverty. It’s time to give America a raise.”
Governors from four states – Rhode Island, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut – sat behind Obama on the stage.
Sherry Sah / youthjournalism.org
President Obama at CCSU
“Each of us cares deeply about creating new jobs,” Obama said, later adding that New Hampshire is also part of the regional coalition.
The president called the four “the Justice League of governors,” and joked, “I’d call them the New England Patriots, but that name is already taken.”
The nation’s unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in five years, Obama said, but there are other, troubling trends that have been “battering” the middle class.
“Average wages have barely budged,” Obama said.
The goal is to “build an economy that works for everybody, not just for some,” the president said, including equal pay for equal work and job training.
Minimum wage earners are not typically teenagers, Obama said, but on average are 35 years old and mostly women. He said many of them work full time and struggle to support a family on $7.25 an hour, the current federal minimum wage.
Obama also addressed the high cost of college. He said every young person deserves a fair chance to go to college.
Sherry Sah / youthjournalism.org

CCSU music education
major Alexander O'Neil
sang the national anthem
before Obama's speech,
an amazing moment he
said was one of the
biggest in his life.
“No young person should be priced out of a higher education,” the president said. He said it’s tough to pay for college on the low pay of a work study position.
Raising the minimum wage, the president said, is “common sense” and would make a huge difference for many families.
“This is not a small thing. This is a big deal,” said Obama.
Having Obama visit was also a big deal to local officials and students.
State Rep. Betty Boukus, a Democrat from Plainville, said she shook Obama’s hand. Having the president here was “just wonderful,” she said.
CCSU freshman Arnes Capacho, 18, said he agreed with what the president wants to do with the minimum wage.
Graduate students Michelle Triompo, 25, of Rocky Hill and Jessica Folod, 30, of Bristol, said they think raising the minimum wage is a great idea.
Folod said she could relate to what the president said.
Sherry Sah / youthjournalism.org
Mayor Erin Stewart
New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart, a 26-year-old CCSU alum, said she was “completely honored” to have the president in her city and speaking at her alma mater.
Stewart, a Republican, called raising the minimum wage “a Band Aid” that won’t fix the problem. While she said she understands that the current minimum wage is “not necessarily a livable wage,” the focus should be on being more business friendly so new jobs are better paying ones with benefits like health insurance.
Stewart said she got a lot of grief for her posts on Twitter from fellow Republicans about her wanting to take a ‘selfie’ with Obama. While she didn’t get the picture she wanted, she said, she definitely tried.
While she may disagree with Obama on raising the minimum wage, Stewart said it doesn’t matter.
“It’s up to Congress now,” said Stewart.


Protesters Focused On Environment,

 Economy and Ukraine


By Sherry Sah
Junior Reporter
NEW BRITAIN – Outside the gymnasium where President Obama spoke Wednesday afternoon, protesters held signs and chanted about a variety of issues.
Paul Gebauer, a postal worker from Clinton, Connecticut, held a sign with his daughter’s photo and a reminder of Obama’s early promise to make climate change a priority.
“I care about the climate,” Gebauer said.
Sherry Sah / youthjournalism.org
These protesters outside
the gym focused on the
situation in Ukraine.
Sky Button, a 17-year-old senior at Windsor High School, opposes the Keystone XL pipeline project. He said he doesn’t like the president because he thinks he is too conservative.
John Ulatowski, a construction worker from West Haven who is out of work, said he wanted to be there to express his concerns.
“I am not happy with the economy right now,” Ulatowski said, adding that he’d like to see the president work to create better jobs, such as manufacturing, rather than focus on the minimum wage.
For Marko Rudik, a first-generation Ukrainian American, the issue was peace in Ukraine.
“We’d like President Obama to stand in solidarity with the people of Ukraine,” said Rudik, holding a large Ukrainian flag, and “answer the aggressive action” of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Rudik said he didn’t want military action, but rather measures like sanctions or changes to trade agreements. He said he wants Ukraine to remain whole and be at peace.

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