Bringing the good news – and the party – to workers
by Patrick Ayers
“Congratulations to you all and to us all on this phenomenal historic victory… Let’s make sure that all workers know they are getting their rightful legal wage and they know we are on their side and we have their backs if they challenge their bosses against wage theft. Let’s make sure that we will fight for them if they are intimidated, threatened, harassed, or fired for asking for their rights.” – Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant
15 now, in coalition with unions and supporters, brought the good news to low-wage workers on Saturday, March 28: Seattle’s getting a raise!
More than 150 people came together for a victory march to mark the beginning of the $15 minimum wage law, the steps to which begin on April 1. The action brought the celebration to workers wearing party hats, carrying colorful balloons and chanting, “Hip hip hooray! Seattle’s getting a raise!”
“We stopped at low-wage workplaces along the way – all big national fast food chains like Subway, McDonalds, Dominos, and Chipotle,” explained Jess Spear from 15 Now. “We went inside with information to let workers know: on April 1, they get a wage increase to a minimum of $11/hour under the new city law.”
President of SEIU 775, David Rolf, welcomed the crowd before the march began and highlighted the role of brave fast food workers, who stood up first and went on strike, while Ian Gordon from LiUNA 1239 spoke about the effect $15 would have for city workers.
Newly elected State Senator and member of the Mayor’s $15 minimum wage task force, Pramila Jayapal spoke outside of Starbucks and appealed to everyone to come to Washington’s state capitol and pressure lawmakers to pass a $12/hour minimum wage for all workers statewide. The State house recently passed legislation, but the Republican led state Senate is likely to block its ultimate passage.
The march ended at a McDonald’s restaurant, the corporate face of of a recent failed attempt by big business to get an injunction to stop Seattle’s minimum wage from going into effect. Councilmember Kshama Sawant spoke at McDonald’s to the colorful crowd reminding everyone that it was just one year ago that we were marching for $15.
Paula Lukaszek, a plumber at the University of Washington and the President of WFSE 1488, invited everyone to a rally at UW in solidarity with thousands of workers there who make less than $15/hour. UW, the city’s largest employer, recently announced they were “exempt” from Seattle’s minimum wage law.
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In anticipation of the new minimum wage going into effect, 15 Now helped form the “Seattle’s Getting A Raise Coalition” along with Councilmember Sawant, Working Washington, SEIU 775, UNITE HERE Local 8, Teamsters Local 117, the MLKC Labor Council, WFSE Local 1488, IBEW Local 46, IUOE Local 609, and Laborers Local 1239.
The coalition organized the march on Saturday and plans to hand out a total of 20,000 leaflets with information on the new wage law and who to call if workers aren’t getting what they’ve earned.
The new minimum wage was passed last year after strikes of fast food workers, the passage of a $15/hour minimum wage voter initiative in the city of SeaTac in 2013, along with the election Kshama Sawant of Socialist Alternative to the Seattle City council in 2013. At the beginning of 2014, 15 Now was launched with the help of Sawant and within six months, the city passed a new law that phases in a $15/hour minimum wage over the next seven years.
Help enforce the new wage law! Chip in $15, $50, or $100 to reach low wage workers.
For the next several weeks, 15 Now, unions and supporters will be distributing information to let workers know what they are entitled to, and that if they don’t get it, where they can go for help.
Contribute to our campaign today with a donation to help arm hundreds of activists with leaflets, along with advertisements on King County Metro busses and in local media. Help us make sure workers know they are getting a raise and they should not be fooled by the lies of big business.