A veteran labor reporter finds hope for unions in boycotts, minimum-wage campaigns and strikes.
“What’s Next After $15?” a forum recently held by the American Civil Liberties Union’s Pasadena chapter, brought together community organizers and antipoverty activists to discuss the challenges now faced by the City of Roses to implement its new living wage law.
Last night’s Republican debate got underway following a day of national demonstrations in favor of raising the American minimum wage to $15 an hour — a day of protest accompanied by nothing-to-lose strikes by fast-food workers. The debate began with a question about raising the minimum wage. The first candidate to speak said America’s wages were, in fact, “too high” and that the current federal minim wage of $7.25 has to stay where it is.
The second presidential hopeful argued that the reason there are high unemployment rates among young African Americans is “because of those high wages.” The next candidate followed by calling the minimum wage “a disaster” for the 20th century and predicted catastrophe for the 21st should the day come when higher wages “make people more expensive than a machine.”
For a moment it looked as though the debate would become a contest to see which candidates would lower the minimum wage the most.
On Tuesday, November 10, Los Angeles and Long Beach will join the National Day of Action built around #FightFor15. Its message, which has been spreading since last April’s Tax Day demonstrations, will be announced loud and clear in 270 cities: Fast-food and other low-income workers in America deserve a break today – a national $15 hourly wage and the ability to organize into unions.
That is why fast-food workers will be walking off their jobs in a nationwide strike tomorrow. To learn what other actions are taking place across California, please check out Fight For 15’s website and its Facebook page.
In case you may think that comparatively few workers actually earn the minimum wage or would directly benefit from the proposed wage boost, consider this: According to a study from the National Employment Law Project, 42 percent of Americans earn less than $15 an hour.