Supporters of a national $15 minimum wage plan to protest the Democratic debate Thursday, as two main candidates are split on whether the policy is actually a good idea.
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders has made the $15 minimum wage a main focus of his campaign. His rival, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, however, argues the federal minimum wage should not exceed $12 an hour. The union-backed Fight for $15 movement plans to protest the debate in support of the policy.
“They have to decide whether to feed themselves or their kids, so they’re not concerned with political parties or whether a candidate is running for city council or president,” Fight for $15 Organizing Director Kendall Fells told an affiliate of Fox News. “They care about two things: getting $15 an hour and the right to unionize. It’s about getting out of poverty.”
Fells was caught on video during a 2014 union panel meeting discussing how the $15 minimum wage was the most politically expedient cause. The Employment Policies Institute and other groups have criticized him for pushing a potentially harmful policy without considering actual economic factors.
Fight for $15 has been at the forefront of the policy push. It has utilized rallies and media marketing campaigns to advocate for the policy both nationally and locally. The movement, along with other supporters, have successfully made the policy a prominent campaign issue. They often argue it will help the poor, but critics are concerned it will do the opposite.
For those supporting the policy, it means low-income workers will finally be able to afford basic necessities. It could also mean an increase in economic activity that will help the economy. Others warn the policy actually is prone to devastating consequences that could harm the poor. Businesses may be forced to cut back on their workforce because of the increase cost of labor.
Sanders started a petition Feb. 8 so $15 minimum wage supporters could demand all Democratic candidates support the policy. The petition appeared to be an attack on Clinton, though it did not mention her by name.
Seattle was the first to pass a $15 minimum wage back in June 2014. A handful of states including New York, Massachusetts and California are fighting to be the first. Clinton has supported the idea of localities deciding for themselves whether the $15 minimum wage is right for them.
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