On Friday September 26, 15 Now held its first benefit show Fight for $15 in all 50 to raise funds to spread 15 Now nationwide and defend the victory in Seattle. Since winning $15 an hour minimum wage our victory in Seattle has been threatened by a ballot initiative, a lawsuit from the International Franchise Association, and pro-corporate, right wing figures like Tim Eyman who has pledged to raise $2 million to challenge the minimum wage increase.
The surest way to defend our monumental victory in Seattle is to spread 15 Now to cities across Washington state and the country. Currently 15 Now has vibrant campaigns in Minneapolis working with airport workers to win $15 and a union, Philadelphia, New York City, and in nearly 20 other cities. With 46 million Americans living in poverty and income inequality reaching levels not seen since the 1920’s, the fight for a higher minimum wage is our generations equivalent of the fight for an 8 hour work day and the right to unionize – both won through mass struggle of working people. And working people across the country are on the move to challenge this yawning inequality.
Headlining Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave with a special guest appearance by Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave, the benefit show was a tremendous success. 800 people filled a completely sold out El Corazon in Seattle for a rousing night of speeches and inspiring music.
Seattle’s own Ancient Warlocks and Subject to Downfall started the night off with strong sets followed by powerful speeches by Jess Spear, 15 Now’s Organizing Director during the successful campaign in Seattle raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, and Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative Seattle City Councilor responsible for initiating 15 Now.
Both pointed to the key to victory in Seattle – a grassroots movement of working people that forced big business and the political establishment to concede – and the need to take the movement nationwide to confront the twin scourges of our time – income inequality and poverty.
Following their inspiring words, Tom Morello and his band unleashed a spirited and energetic set with songs such as “Uniontown” and “Marching on Ferguson” bringing the show to new heights of intensity. Then Chris Cornell joined Morello on stage and together played “Save the Hammer for the Man”. Chris Cornell continued with several solo songs, surprising the crowd by playing Imagine by John Lennon and a mashup of U2’s One with the lyrics of Metallica’s One. The set was rounded out with the Morello and Cornell playing several Audioslave songs together and finishing with a crowd involved rendition of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Our Land.”
The show brought together a powerful social movement, 15 Now, and the tremendous talents of Tom Morello and Chris Cornell to create a unique and lasting experience that has inspired working people across the country.
Get involved with 15 Now today!