US minimum wage activists face their toughest foe: Democrat Joe Manchin

Party’s most conservative senator, from one of the poorest states, has advocated for a rise only to $11 an hour – but workers say it’s not enough

Hopes that the US will finally increase the federal minimum wage for the first time in nearly 12 years face a seemingly unlikely opponent: a Democrat senator from one of the poorest states in the union.

Joe Manchin of West Virginia, the state’s former governor and the Democrats’ most conservative senator, has long opposed his party’s progressive wing and is on record saying he does not support increasing the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour, the first increase since 2009. “I’m supportive of basically having something that’s responsible and reasonable,” he told the Hill. He has advocated for a rise to $11.

Related: ‘Hopefully it makes history’: Fight for $15 closes in on mighty win for US workers

If you’ve never lived in poverty, you have no idea what it does to you

Zack Harold is a freelance writer and radio producer in Charleston, West Virginia. He is a regular contributor for West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Inside Appalachia and formerly served as the Charleston Daily Mail’s entertainment editor and managing editor for WV Living, Wonderful West Virginia and WV Focus magazines

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