Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Fast food, Walmart, low-wage workers strike for $15 and a union

NYC Teamsters, JC 16 Pres. George Miranda stand with #Fightfor15 protesters
Low-wage workers toiling at the bottom of the economic ladder are striking back again today. This time fast food, retail and childcare workers -- among others -- are hitting 200 cities and 30 countries all at once, demanding living wages and union rights!

Teamsters and other union members are standing in solidarity with low-wage workers because we know the increase in poverty-wage jobs is a drag on middle-class wages, including those of union members. And most people working low-wage jobs are not high school students -- they are middle-aged mothers and fathers who have been pushed to the bottom thanks to a three-decade assault on workers' wages and living standards.

Today's protests and strikes are expanding the scope of the movement, both geographically and by industry. A USA Today article gives us a snapshot of today's mass protests:
It was an unusual coalition of low-wage workers taking shape on Wednesday, from home care workers in Raleigh-Durham to adjunct faculty members in Chicago. Fast-food workers protested in Miami even as peers in Washington, D.C. announced early Wednesday the filing of a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
There was support overseas, too, as strikes organized in coordination with the U.S. strikes took place in New Zealand along with fast-food worker protests in Antwerp, Helsinki and several cities in Japan, organizers say.
The timing of the strikes on Tax Day is intentional, [Kendall] Fells [organizing director of Fight for $15] said, to focus public attention on the strain that low wages place on public budgets and taxpayers when working families are forced to rely on public assistance. 
#Fightfor15 protests in LA.
Since the "Fight for 15" movement took off two years ago, issues of income inequality and low wages have dominated the national spotlight. A number of states and cities have raised their minimum wages. The protests have pushed Walmart to raise wages for some of its lowest paid workers, followed by McDonald's efforts to head off protests with a very modest increase for a small portion of its workforce.

At the New York Times, former labor reporter Steven Greenhouse explains why today's protests matter:
The more people who get involved, the more pressure that puts on cities and states to raise the minimum wage. It is good for unions and their members because it is bringing back and reinspiring collective action.
Brinks Security workers walk off job in Chicago today.
In a column at In These Times today, United Steel Workers President Leo Gerard underscored why this is such an important fight for labor:
Dominic Flis, whose company owns 18 Burger Kings in central Arkansas, said raising the minimum wage pushes up pay for other workers too.
“If somebody was already making $7.50, and minimum wage goes to $7.50, they’ll have some expectation of a raise as well,” Flis said. “And I have to maintain my workforce.”
IBT VP-At-Large George
Miranda #Fightfor15
The Brookings Institute calls this the ripple effect. The pay increase at the bottom ripples all the way up the pay scale.
[Kip] Hedges, [a] fired Delta worker, put it another way: “a lot of the better paid workers also understand that the bottom has to be raised otherwise the top is going to fall as well.”
If for no other reason than self-interest, join the gutsy minimum-wage workers at a Fight for $15 event Wednesday.
Go to to continue following (and join!) today's Fight for 15 protests.

Solidarity with low-wage workers everywhere!