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"Koch Sisters" Weigh In on Minimum Wage Debate

PHOTO: Their last name is the only thing Karen (L) and Joyce Koch share with the billionaire Koch brothers. This week, they're using their social media spotlight to advocate for a higher national minimum wage. Photo courtesy of the Koch Sisters.
PHOTO: Their last name is the only thing Karen (L) and Joyce Koch share with the billionaire Koch brothers. This week, they're using their social media spotlight to advocate for a higher national minimum wage. Photo courtesy of the Koch Sisters.
October 6, 2014

SEATTLE – They've become online celebrities for their plain-spoken views about politics – and the fact that they share the same last name with a couple of guys whose views are polar opposites from theirs.

The Koch Sisters are the labor movement's down-home answer to the Koch brothers, billionaires who have become famous for big contributions to ultra-conservative political causes.

The two women have been dubbed sisters, although they aren't related to each other or the Koch brothers.

What unites them, says retired social worker Joyce Koch, is a desire for American workers to be able to live and retire comfortably. And, she says, contrary to what their critics say, they don't hate rich folks.

"'Oh, they're against billionaires!'” she relates. “No, we're not! We think money's fine. But it's how you use it – and we don't think you should use it by destroying Medicare and Social Security, and buying politicians who think just your way."

The Koch Sisters are making the rounds this week as spokeswomen for a higher national minimum wage.

October 10 – the date 10/10 – is being used to highlight a proposal in Congress to increase the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.

Washington's minimum wage increases to $9.47 an hour in January.

Karen Koch is a longtime teacher. She says her concern is that allowing employers to pay lower wages puts more money in their pockets, but leaves their workers to qualify for public assistance.

She also worries that people get fed up with politics – and give up on the system.

"You know, they say in life, you don't have much choice – you've got to die, you've got to pay your taxes," she says. "I also think you have to vote. Because if you don't vote for politicians that care about the middle class, you'll find yourself lower and lower. The rich are getting wealthier, and the poor are getting poorer."

Both Koch Sisters have union backgrounds, and have agreed to make videos and ads on behalf of the AFL-CIO. But they say all their opinions are their own.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA