Fight for $15: Workers Across The Country Join Mass Day Of Action For Living Wage

The Fight For $15 is going on in hundreds of cities in dozens of states today. Workers across the United States and even a few countries abroad are marching, demonstrating, and shutting down streets as they campaign for a fair, living wage. The Fight for $15 campaign aims to force every state in the nation to raise the minimum wage to at least $15, reports KDVR.

While the minimum wage in Colorado is still just $8.31, there has been some positive reaction to the fight from other states. California “worked out a deal last month with labor unions to hike the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2022. New York has approved the $15 minimum wage for more than 2 million workers. And Seattle has already passed a $15 minimum wage.”

Fast food companies are notorious for low pay, and McDonald’s has borne the brunt of protester’s fight. However, the case for the mega-corporation was put by spokeswoman Lisa McComb.

“We proudly invest in the future of those who work in McDonald’s restaurants. In addition to raising the minimum wage for employees at our company-owned restaurants, we also offer employees access to Archways to Opportunity, a set of programs McDonald’s pays for which helps them earn a high school diploma and get needed tuition assistance so they can work toward earning a college degree.”

So is the Fight For $15 having any real effect on minimum wage rates? KTLA notes that it just might be. A report by the National Employment Law Project says that “efforts to raise the minimum wage have put more money in the pockets of roughly 17 million low income workers since 2012.”

One of the report authors, Paul Sonn, says that while “causation between the Fight for $15 and the minimum wage increases can’t directly be proven…there’s a big argument for its impact in raising public awareness and changing the national conversation.”

Yannet Lathrop, who authored the report with Sonn, puts the evidence for the fight in stronger language.

“Lawmakers were stuck at increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from $7.25…now people are talking about $15 an hour.”

Fight For $15 demonstrations have been all over the news and social media for most of the day. In New York City, “hundreds of raucous protesters, including striking Verizon employees, converged on a McDonald’s restaurant in Times Square.” The Times Square protesters put in extra effort with a “marching band and dancers.”

In Los Angeles, “fast-food workers were set to strike, join home-care and child-care workers, according to organizers of the L.A. action. A 6 a.m. protest took place at a McDonald’s on Manchester Avenue in South L.A.” In Boston, the fight shut down Commonwealth Avenue as BU students and employees protesting for adjunct professors.

Across the country in St Louis, hospitals have been targeted for low wages. Part of Lake Shore Drive in Chicago was shut down as protesters held a sit-in. Demonstrators in a Memphis McDonald’s had to be escorted out after storming the building.

Some people think the Fight For $15 might do more harm than good. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “the Employment Policies Institute, and other conservative groups, say a $15 minimum wage will lead to higher prices, layoffs and automation of burger-flipping jobs.” The Fight For $15 demonstrations in Atlanta were centered on Northside Drive, with workers protesting “outside McDonald’s for higher wages at 6 a.m.”

The Fight For $15 is also about the freedom to unionize in the workplace, as well as the living wage. As reported by the Salt Lake Tribune, “the push is being backed by the Service Employees International Union and began in 2012.” Now, other low-paid employees such as “airport workers, adjunct professors and home care workers plan to turn out to show their solidarity with fast food workers.”

What do you think of the Fight For $15? It’s certainly a worthy cause, but do you agree that the fight is actually making a difference? Can the country afford the higher prices that a living wage may bring? Sound off in the comments below.

[Photo by Teresa Crawford/AP Images]