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Keywords

Claims-making, fairness arguments, minimum wage, low-wage workers, qualitative content analysis

Abstract

A number of states and localities have increased the minimum wage beyond that set by the federal government in recognition of the material and health challenges faced by low-wage earners. Academics, economists, and activists have offered microeconomic, economic justice, and moral rationales to support increasing the minimum wage. These justifications can be understood from the vantage of claims-making, that is, the ways individuals and groups attempt to define and shape a social problem to influence policy. This paper examines the wage-related claims-making of low-wage hospital service workers. These workers (N=156) testified to a City Council-created Wage Review Committee, which posted the testimonies online. We qualitatively content analyzed these workers’ testimonies to identify their rationales for higher wages and fair wage rates. Hospital workers’ testimonies brought depth and new understanding to arguments for raising wages. Low-wage workers can be effective advocates for their own interests.

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