The union-backed Fight for $15 movement plans to protest in cities across the country Tuesday in its continuous efforts to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
The National Day of Action will consists of numerous rallies across the country. New York City participants plan to march across the city, Atlanta participants will rally outside their city hall, the United Auto Workers (UAW) is planning a protest in the union stronghold of Detroit, Mich., while 20 cities in Florida will participate as well.
“People across the country will be coming together to stand with them, with child care workers and with all 64 million underpaid workers making less than $15,” Fight for $15 declared on its website. “Together we’re turning the tide in favor of working people and our families. And we’ll need everyone’s help.”
Additionally, the American Federation of Teachers in San Diego, Calif., is encouraging both professors and students alike to participate. Beyond the minimum wage, Milwaukee participants will also advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement and immigration reform. Protesters also plan to target companies that have been at odds with the labor movement. New York state protesters will rally outside Walmart, and Local 888 of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) will protest Boston area McDonald’s.
The $15 minimum wage has grown in popularity in recent years. Fight for $15 has been at the forefront of the movement, organizing dozens of rallies and launching untold amounts of media campaigns. The group is highly influenced and funded by the SEIU.
Some have accused the movement of being nothing more than an organizing drive for unions. Worker Center Watch (WCW) argued last December unions are using the Fight for $15 protests as a way of bypassing labor laws to more easily unionize fast food workers. According to a report from the Center for Union Facts, a minimum wage increase would benefit the SEIU directly while hurting non-unionized competitors.
Additionally, unions often seek exemptions from the very minimum wage laws they support. According to the report, “Labor’s Minimum Wage Exemption,” which was released by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in December, unions use the objection to encourage membership growth by making it a low cost alternative for employers.
Labor unions, though, are not the only groups supporting the effort. The Metro Atlanta Democratic Socialists of America have come out in support as well. More so, presidential hopeful and democratic-socialist Bernie Sanders plans to join protesters in Atlanta.
“It is a national disagrace that millions of full-time workers are living in poverty,” Bernie Sanders said in a statement. “The current federal minimum wage is a starvation wage and must be raised to a living wage.”
Bernie has been one of the more vocal lawmakers in support of the movement. He has even introduced a bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Currently, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have gone higher. Seattle led the way in passing the $15 minimum wage back in June 2014. San Francisco and Los Angeles followed not long after. Each local ordinance phased in the new wage over the course of several years. Thus far, no state has passed a $15 minimum wage. New York, Florida and Massachusetts are all considering it.
Experts and lawmakers have been fairly divided on the issue. Supporters say the $15 minimum wage will help the poor by allowing them to more easily afford basic necessities. The increased spending would then in turn stimulate economic activity. Critics, though, say such an increase will actually hurt the poor by limiting job opportunities. Some businesses within Seattle have already reported problems because of the increase.
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