Students from three ultra-expensive private universities in New York City have announced plans to protest for a $15 per hour minimum wage for fast-food employees on Wednesday.
Undergrads from Columbia University, New York University and The New School are participating, the New York Daily News reports.
The annual cost for tuition, fees, room and board at Columbia is $71,358. The figure does not include health insurance, books, travel or anything else.
Columbia’s endowment of $9.2 billion is roughly equal to an entire year’s worth of economic output in the Southeast Asian nation of Laos.
At NYU, the cost for only tuition and expenses is $70,974.
A fast-food worker earning $15 per hour would need to work 4,757 hours (or about 90 hours a week for an entire year) to cover the heft price tag at either school.
“My first job was at McDonald’s,” Columbia student Lamar Richardson told the Daily News. “I used to make minimum wage back in high school.”
Richardson, 22, is part of a group on the Ivy League campus called group called “Columbia Fight for 15.” He said he plans to participate in a minimum wage rally outside a McDonald’s in Harlem.
The senior from North Carolina also explained that he worries about making enough money in his post-college career now that graduation is approaching.
“I can’t imagine making minimum wage as an adult and living in New York City,” he added.
Students from three public schools — City College of New York, New York City College of Technology and Brooklyn College — will also participate in the demonstrations.
The current minimum wage in New York City is $8.75 per hour.
Fast-food industry bosses and employers who hire workers at the minimum wage say mandatory higher wages will result in higher retail prices.
A nationwide rally for increasing the minimum wage is reportedly set for April 15. Organizers hope to draw 60,000 demonstrators across 200 cities (or about 300 protesters per city).
The national debate about the minimum wage comes up in the news with considerable frequency.
In October, for example, a socialist political party that wants to raise the federal minimum wage to $20 per hour advertised a job for an experienced web developer paying $13 per hour. The party is the Freedom Socialist Party, which, impressively, owns the rights to the domain name Socialism.com. (RELATED: Seattle Socialist Party Wants $20 Per Hour Minimum Wage, Offers $13 Per Hour For Website Manager)
In June 2014, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama suggested that they are actively searching for dead-end, low-paying jobs for their two daughters so the teenagers can appreciate the quiet desperation that millions of Americans experience. (RELATED: Obama Wants Daughters To Work Crappy Minimum-Wage Jobs So They Understand America)
“We are looking for opportunities for them to feel as if going to work and getting a paycheck is not always fun, not always stimulating, not always fair,” President Obama said in a hard-hitting interview in Parade magazine. “But that’s what most folks go through every single day.”