(Warning: Video contains some adult language)
Just a spoonful of star power has brought new buzz to the ongoing minimum wage debate in the U.S.
In a new Funny or Die parody video posted Thursday, “Frozen” star Kristen Bell puts a modern-day spin on the Disney classic “Mary Poppins.” In her take, the iconic British nanny reimagines the classic tune “Just a Spoonful of Sugar” as a rallying cry for minimum wage workers.
“Just a $3 increase can make a living wage,” Bell trills, as her character packs up her things in protest of her low wages.
There are plenty of workers in the U.S. who would agree with her. For the last two years, minimum-wage workers have held protests and rallies in more than a dozen U.S. states.
On Friday, more than 1,000 fast food workers head to Chicago for a two-day expo to discuss strategies that might help keep the minimum wage debate going strong. They’re calling for a hefty pay raise — from today’s $7.25 federal minimum wage to $15 — and a union.
The federal minimum wage hasn’t been raised since 2009, when workers got a 70-cent bump from $6.55 to $7.25. In his 2014 State of the Union address, President Barack Obama threw his hat into the ring, pushing lawmakers to raise the wage to $10.10.
According to a report by the Council of Economic Advisors, doing so would effectively give 28 million workers a boost. It would be enough, they calculate, to help push a family of four with one minimum wage earner above the poverty line.
Some states and cities aren’t waiting for Congress to make a move. In June, Seattle lawmakers passed legislation that would gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour – the highest in the nation. The law goes into effect April 2015, and it gives businesses with more than 500 employees up to three years to implement it. Thirteen states raised their minimum wage floors in 2013, and a July Department of Labor report found that they’ve seen faster job growth as a result.
Some big businesses have taken strides to show their support as well. Swedish furniture maker Ikea made headlines last month when it announced workers would get a 17% raise beginning in January 2015 — bringing the average wage up from $9.17 to $10.76 an hour.
The reality of the struggle facing minimum wage workers is difficult to ignore. As fixed costs like health care, housing, transportation and education continue to soar, it’s increasingly difficult for families to live on minimum wage alone. At $7.25, a worker clocking 40 hours a week would eek out just $15,000 a year.
A spoof on Mary Poppins might be an odd way to show support for the movement – she is British after all, not American, and would earn the UK minimum wage, which is $10.70 — but the video definitely struck a chord with viewers. Less than two days after it was posted, it had more than 810,000 views on Funnyordie.com.*
In the video, Poppins explains to her two young charges why she’s abruptly leaving her job.
“In every job that must be done/ You must be paid in more than fun,” she sings, holding up a paycheck that quickly disappears. “The pay’s too low/ I can’t live on this dough.”
If you are earning minimum wage and would like to share your story, e-mail us here: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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