On Sunday, March 2nd, 15 Now activists stepped onto the streets of Queens, New York City as part of a lively contingent in the St. Pat’s For All parade. This annual event in the historically Irish American neighborhood of Sunnyside is an alternative St. Patrick’s Day event organized because of the long-standing exclusion of LBGT groups from the main parade in New York City. St. Pat’s For All attracts a wide range of groups and a working class crowd.
15 Now set up tables before the march began and collected hundreds of signatures on our petition calling on New York City’s new mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council to come out in favor of a $15 minimum wage. Currently de Blasio is supporting legislation in the New York State legislature in Albany to give the city the power to set a higher minimum wage than the state. This is a good step but de Blasio has not said what minimum wage he would actually support. The reality is that even $15 per hour is not adequate to live decently in New York, especially for workers with families and given the soaring rents in the city.
At 2:45 the parade began moving down Skillman Avenue. 60 people joined our contingent which was one of the largest and liveliest on the entire march. As we began chanting, “raise that minimum wage; we’ve got to raise that minimum wage!” many of the hundreds lining the side of the street began cheering, joining in the chants. Some pumped their fists in the air.
15 blocks later, at the end of the march, we held an impromptu rally under the watchful eye of the New York Police Department. The main takeaway for those who participated in the 15 Now contingent is the widespread support for our demand and the potential to build a serious campaign in New York City. 15 Now’s next public actions in New York City will take place on March 15. We will join other groups in Herald Square in Manhattan at 1pm and we will have our own event in downtown Brooklyn at 425 Fulton St., also at 1pm.