'Poverty Tour' Brings Edwards to Mississippi - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Decision 2007 07/16/07

'Poverty Tour' Brings Edwards to Mississippi

By Julie Straw

Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards traveled to Mississppi Monday, where he gave a voice to low-wage workers during his three-day "Road to One America" tour.  He spoke to a group of poultry plant workers at Mount Levi Full Gospel Church in Canton.

One by one, the workers explained to Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, how they want the government to take a stand for low-income workers.

"Trying to get better wages, better working conditions better insurance and treat everybody with dignity and respect," said Eddie James, a representative for poultry and packing workers.

Leice Caldwell says she quit her job at BC Rogers in Morton after suffering under poor working conditions. 

"I was always trembling," she said. "I suffer from carpal tunnal syndrome. It went from my arm into my neck.  It was awful."

The employees complain they are not receiving their full wages or overtime pay.  Some live in a trailer park near the PECO Foods plant in Canton because they say they can't afford anything else.

"People are working more than 40 hours a week and living in poverty. To me that's a crime in America," said Anita Grabowshi of the Center for Community change, Poultry Worker Project. 

"They have a hard time paying their bills and supporting their families because...their pay is low...they don't have the benefits you'd hope they'd have, and...they are being cheated out of what they are entitled to," said Sen. Edwards.

Edwards says the government can help fix poverty in America by enforcing labor laws, providing universal health care and increasing the minimum wage to $9.50 for all workers.

"Do we create an opportunity for them to save and matching what they are able to save, stopping predatory and pay day lenders that take advantage of low income workers. Those are the kinds of things I want the people in Mississippi to know about," said Sen. Edwards.

After Canton, the Edwards entourage was scheduled to stop in the Delta town of Marks.

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