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April 3, 2014

MoveOn.org holds rally at Gibson's office

Local activists associated with the advocacy organization MoveOn.org staged a protest at the Cooperstown district office of Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook yesterday, urging him to support increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

The protesters, who numbered 17, entered the district office around noon, many carrying signs asking Gibson to support a $10.10 minimum wage. The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 an hour.

The protesters were peaceful, and Carol Waller, Gibson’s constituent services representative in Cooperstown, said she was aware that they would be coming. She also offered no comment on the topic of the minimum wage, an action she was instructed to take from the congressman’s Kinderhook office, when she had discussed the impending protest with them. This silence frustrated some of the protesters.

Waller did, however, give the protesters the phone number of Matt Sheehey, a congressional staffer for the congressman. The number was then called by Ann Hager, of Goodyear Lake, who put Sheehey on speakerphone. After some disagreement about being on speaker, Sheehey had a conversation with the protesters about their demand that Gibson support a $10.10 minimum wage, which they claimed the congressman is helping to block.

Sheehey said that the congressman supports increasing the minimum wage, but that he favors increasing it to $9 an hour. The protesters countered, however, by saying that $9 is too low, and not sufficient to cover the cost of essentials like milk and gas.

Sheehey also said that Gibson was not working to block a vote on a $10.10 minimum wage.

Near the end of the conversation which, while spirited, remained civil, Sheehey asked the protesters to leave their names and contact information, saying the congressman would get back to them. After the conversation’s conclusion, 13 of the protesters gave their names, emails, and hometowns to Waller.

“I thought it was less than satisfactory,” said Hager, when asked about Sheehey’s responses. “Spin.”

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