The fair wage war continues as many fast food workers gathered in protest to fight for a higher minimum wage. Protesters convened in large cities such as Chicago, Boston and Milwaukee on Thursday to peacefully demonstrate and demand a higher wage of $15. They also were advocating fair labor laws in nearly 200 cities across the country.
The campaign is called Fight for 15. Unions and social justice organizations support the campaign and have led protests in a number of cities in the United States. Initially, the campaign focused on fast food workers and their rights for fair wages, but the effort has expanded to other low-paying jobs.
Fast food workers are not the only ones who are affected by lower than necessary wages. Home care workers, gas station employees, and airline workers are all affected and have been included in the fight for higher wages.
Workers from Walmart are expected to join the protest for fair wages after many protested at stores during Black Friday. They are in a separate union from the fast food workers, but they share the same goal for a raise in minimum wage.
Many fast food workers who protested commented that working two jobs is too much, but many do it just to get by. One woman made a note that she had to choose which bills to pay because she does not make enough money.
Since 2012, there has been a push for a higher minimum wage because the wage had been holding at $7.25 since 2009. On a federal level, there has not been a raise in minimum wage, but on a city and state level, the wage has been rising slightly. During the November elections, many voters chose in favor of higher wages. There is currently a bill in Congress that has been stalled that would raise the minimum wage to $10.10, but some say even that is not enough.
Both Seattle and Chicago have started to phase in a raise in minimum wage to $15 and $13, respectively. Seattle has a plan to phase in the higher wage over several years. Chicago is in the process of doing the same. Protesters in Illinois, however, believe that five years is too long to wait and some people will lose their homes and cars before that.
Many workers complained that making $9 per hour does not help support a family, but in some places there are no other choices. Some advocates of the higher wage have commented that these workers are kept at or below poverty level based on a family of four. Meanwhile, those who oppose have insisted that the statistics being used are only from large corporations and do not reflect smaller businesses. However, fast food workers continue to fight with protests for a higher minimum wage.
The higher wage protests have overlapped with protests over the Ferguson grand jury verdict, and protesters have expressed their solidarity and appreciation for each other’s causes by having a universal moment of silence. Both groups are fighting for their rights, which creates a mutual respect.
The protests will continue as fast food workers continue to fight for higher minimum wages. The cause is strong and many people are supporting it. A few states have even started implementing their own raise in wages to help combat poverty.
By Kerri Cushna
Photo by KHRawlings – Flickr License