All posts by 15 Now

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Minimum Wage Victories in 2016 Show We Can Beat Trump’s Agenda

Minimum wage victories swept the nation in 2016, with $15 winning in Washington D.C., parts of Oregon and New York, the entire state of California and more, resulting in raises for 11.8 million people. In the past four years of the nationwide fight for $15, low-wage workers have won $62 billion in wage increases (NELP report).

In Minnesota, as in Ohio most recently, the state government could block workers’ rights legislation at the local level. It’s called pre-emption, and it’s been happening in states across the country. And at the national level, Trump has even appointed a Fast Food CEO as labor secretary, someone who says he doesn’t believe in a minimum wage!

Watch, share, and retweet the 15 Now MN video on pre-emption:

Our movements have won tremendous victories since fast-food workers first took strike action in 2012. Low-wage workers pushed $15/hr on the agenda in the first place, and it’s going to take a powerful movement of low-wage workers to fight back against people like Trump and Andrew Puzder, the CEO of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr, and the President-elect’s pick for  the new Secretary of Labor. Puzder is against raising minimum wage, fiercely anti-union, and a strong advocate for “trickle down” economics. That makes sense. The average full time Hardee’s worker makes $15,130 a year. Meanwhile, Andrew Puzder made $17,162……. a day!

Puzder will fit right into the new administration. In addition to its rampant poverty wages, Hardee’s ads have been criticized for objectifying women. When asked about this, Puzder said “I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American.”

Puzder claims
 that paying people a living wage will be an added regulatory cost that businesses will have to offset by increasing unemployment, which data clearly shows is not the case. According to a recent release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the city of Seattle, which passed a $15 ordinance almost 2 years ago, hit a new cycle low of 3.4% unemployment.

When people like Trump and Puzder say “make America great again”, they mean to make their billionaire buddies richer at the expense of working people. We can’t wait for Trump’s team to put forth “trickle down” policies that will only benefit people like Trump and their colleagues. We need to build mass movements to fight against right-wing attacks and for working people.

Big business interests will use every tool they have to continue raking in record profits: whether it’s lobbying for a tip penalty and other carve-outs that undermine minimum wage, or by ramming through pre-emption legislation across the states.

We need to continue building our movement, to demand that elected officials don’t leave the door open for Trump’s agenda and corporate attacks!

Help us grow the movement. Donate at www.15now.org/donate

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Community and Labor Groups Join Fight for $15 Minimum Wage in Minneapolis

Watch press conference full video here.
Powerful labor and faith groups announced Thursday they are uniting behind the fight for a $15/hour minimum wage in Minneapolis, and will make the issue a top priority after this November’s elections.

“I’m here today as a mother of five for all the mothers, fathers, and children who can’t be here. I’ve never made more than $11/hour and I’m fighting for a better future for my family.  I put my blood, my sweat, my tears, and my soul into my job, helping other people — but I’m barely helping myself,” said Rosheeda Credit, a NOC member who works as a personal care attendant. “I’m excited that so many new partners are joining us in this fight. This should be something that’s passed for everybody.”

On Tuesday, the Minnesota AFL-CIO – a federation of over 1000 local unions representing over 300,000 workers in Minnesota – officially endorsed the campaign to raise wages for workers at the municipal level, including the fight for $15 in Minneapolis. The AFL-CIO’s local affiliate, the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, pledged to use its collective power to organize workers in the fight for $15. “We are at a critical moment in the history of the worker’s movement as income inequality has grown to staggering proportions, creating a crisis for low-wage and middle-class workers,” said Chelsie Glaubitz, president of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation. “This, combined with the rise of the on-demand economy, is leaving too many people –especially women and people of color — behind.  Workers deserve a voice in their workplace.”

SEIU Local 26, which represents over 6,000 janitors, security officers and window cleaners, also announced their commitment to expand their struggle to the fight for $15 for all workers in Minneapolis. “Janitors with SEIU Local 26 fought and won $15 in our last contract, which has made a huge impact on my life. But while that was a great gain for us, I have immediate family in Minneapolis who make less than $15 and I know that puts incredible pressure on them just to survive,” said Valentina McKenzie, a janitor at Union Depot. “That is why I am excited for this movement, because everyone deserves to be able to pay their bills and provide for their family. Even though we already won $15 for union janitors, I’m excited to join this fight to make sure everyone can get there.”

“We are committed to winning a $15 minimum wage for all workers because companies should compete based on their goods and services, not on who can sell a cheaper tomato by paying the lowest wage. That is why we are partnering with community organizations to organize retail workers to win $15,” said Rena Wong, organizing director of UFCW Local 653, which represents more than 10,000 retail, meat manufacturing, food preparation, healthcare, and other workers in Minnesota.

ISAIAH, a coalition of over 100 faith organizations in Minnesota, helped organize the first mass doorknock of the ordinance campaign last weekend, which drew out over 50 volunteers. “People of faith are joining the fight for $15,” said Rev. Paul Slack, the pastor of New Creation Church and the president of ISAIAH. “We believe that no one should work and make poverty wages. We will be activating our churches to engage in the struggle for dignity for all workers.”

Labor groups announcing their support for the fight for a $15 minimum wage in Minneapolis include AFSCME Council 5, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), Bakers (BCTGM) Local 22, Communication Workers of America (CWA) State Council, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and ESP’s (MFT) Local 59, Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation (MRLF), Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA), National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Branch 9, People of Color Union Member Caucus, SEIU Minnesota State Council, Teamsters Local 320, UNITE HERE Local 17, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 563, and Working America.

On Saturday, October 15th, the coalition plans to gather hundreds of workers, community activists, union members, supportive small businesses, and members of the faith community for a mass organizing conference to build action groups in each Minneapolis ward.

“I’m one of the 64 million people who make less than $15 minimum wage,” said Guillermo Lindsay, a leader with CTUL and fast food employee. “This fight was started by fast food workers all across the county because we are tired of making poverty wages while the bosses are making millions of dollars every year. We are going to continue to organize in the workplace and in the streets together, as one until we win $15 in Minneapolis.”

“In a city where the CEO of Target makes $9,000/hour, big business will continue fighting for every carve-out and exemption, even while Minneapolis supports $15/hr as a major economic opportunity, especially for women and workers of color who disproportionately fill low-wage jobs,”said Ginger Jentzen, the Executive Director of 15 Now Minnesota. “Polls show 68% support for our proposal, which gets every worker to $15/hour by 2022 with no exceptions, and we’re organizing to activate this support into a broad, grassroots campaign to win.”

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15 Now MN: We Put $15 on the Agenda, Now Let’s Win!

* Visit Votefor15MN.org to donate *

Today was one of the most powerful experiences I’ve had in the over 30 years I’ve spent as a worker and an activist fighting for social justice. Several hundred workers and supporters marched on City Hall and handed in 20,000 signatures to put $15/hour on the ballot in November. This initiative is about empowering working people in Minneapolis to address Minneapolis’ worst in the nation racial and economic inequalities. It took an enormous effort to get this far, but now we need to win in November. We need your help!

We must be ready for big business to spend millions of dollars to protect their profits and defeat a living wage. We need to raise one million dollars to win this campaign. If we win, it means almost a billion dollar transfer of wealth from big business into the hands of working people annually. That means every dollar we raise puts $1,000 directly into the pockets of Minneapolis workers.

Can you dig deep, and donate $48 dollars to win this campaign? That’s how much more a minimum wage worker would make every day if we win $15!

We’re gaining momentum, but this has been an uphill battle from the beginning.  Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and a majority of the City Council oppose a phased in $15 wage despite the fact that polls show that 82% of likely voters favor such a measure.  Ten weeks ago, we launched a vibrant campaign to collect signatures to put $15 on the ballot. Over a hundred people volunteered over 2,000 hours of their time to knock on doors in working class neighborhoods and engage those directly affected by poverty wages. Our campaign has been funded by ordinary people, with over 700 people making small donations to make this campaign possible.

Getting 20,000 signatures is only the first hurdle, however, for the fight for $15/hr in Minneapolis.  The City Attorney and some City Council members have raised questions about the legality of a Charter Amendment.  We’ve proven this initiative is perfectly legal for Minneapolis, but we all know there is a long history of politicians disenfranchising workers and people of color when it comes to defending the interests of big business.  But a key aspect of our legal strategy is building a movement of working people who can stand up to the Chamber of Commerce lawyers.

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Steven, a McDonald’s worker organizing with CTUL, signing the final signature

There is a powerful coalition forming to win $15/hour. It includes 15 Now Minnesota, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC), Centro de Trabajadores en Lucha (CTUL) and Socialist Alternative – Unions like the Minnesota Nurses Association, Communications Workers of America and many others – faith groups, neighborhood organizations, retiree associations and college students. We’ve printed materials in English, Spanish, Somali, Oromo and Hmong. We’ve hosted organizing meetings across the city in churches and mosques, workplace break rooms and small businesses, campuses and retirement homes.

With your financial support, we can build an unstoppable working class movement to win $15/hour and beyond. Donate today.

-Kip Hedges, Retired Baggage Handler and 15 Now Organizer

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Justices Reject Franchises’ Appeal over Seattle’s $15 min. Wage — McDonalds is NOT a Small business

Our Movement is Winning! Join the fight for 15 Now!
Donate to grow the movement today: www.15Now.org/donate

From the Washington Post
SEATTLE — The U.S. Supreme Court weighed in for the first time Monday on a $15-an-hour minimum wage, signaling it does not plan to stop the movement that is spreading across the nation, worker advocates say.
The justices refused to hear a challenge to Seattle’s law, which franchise owners said discriminates against them by treating them as large businesses.

From The Stranger (Seattle)
The International Franchise Association argued the law discriminated against franchises and violated the Commerce Clause. They lost that argument last year in U.S. District Court and the 9th Circuit. [The May 2nd] decision means those lower court decisions will stand. That’s good news for workers in Seattle and in cities across the country looking to follow our lead on $15.

 

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Over 100 volunteers gather 4,000 signatures in eight days to put $15/hour proposal on November ballot

Media Coverage in the Star Tribune and TC Daily Planet

Momentum behind the campaign to bring a $15 minimum wage to voters in Minneapolis is picking up! In the first week of signature collection to get $15 on the ballot, 15 Now and other supporting organizations engaged over 100 volunteers who gathered over 4,000 signatures. The speed and success in its first week of petition gathering and fundraising, combined with victories for $15 across the country, shows Minneapolis is ready for $15/hour.

Support for $15 has been growing for months. On Super Tuesday, 15 Now volunteers passed resolutions in every Minneapolis ward supporting the $15 ballot initiative, and in 100 precincts across the Twin Cities. Sanders decisively won at the Minneapolis caucuses, by 65% or more in some precincts, calling for a $15 minimum wage. Workers have gone on strike numerous times demanding $15/hour, alongside a package of workers’ rights reforms.

A poll released last fall conducted by the Feldman Group showed 82% of likely Minneapolis voters supported $15/hour phased in over time. The charter amendment proposes big business raise wages to $15 over 3.75 years, with an extended phase-up over 5.75 years to $15 for small-medium sized businesses. The first step for all workers (to $10/hour) would start on August 1, 2017. A growing list of community organizations and unions are backing this proposal as the correct initiative for Minneapolis. “Mayor Hodges and City Council have had two years to address Minneapolis’ worst in the nation racial and economic inequalities. We need to take our own initiative to get fair wages for local workers,” said Nekima Levy-Pounds, the President of the Minneapolis NAACP.

Volunteers are confident they’ll be able to gather 20,000 signatures or more before the July deadline. “Our first week shows how popular $15/hour is, but we need to remember that city council can pass our proposal as an ordinance at any time. We’d welcome that,” said Ginger Jentzen, Director for 15 Now. “But we need to keep organizing. City hall has refused to take action on Minneapolis’ dramatic racial and economic inequities. We’re taking an independent initiative to place the $15 decision back into the hands of those most affected: working people in Minneapolis.”

“CEO salaries are at an all-time high while wages for working people have stagnated. All workers need at least $15. No workers, whether they live in Minneapolis or Seattle, can put off paying the rent or putting food on the table. We don’t want to give big business any space to say it can’t be done in Minneapolis,” said Kip Hedges, 15 Now.

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Onto the Ballot, Into the Streets: California Workers Win a $15 minimum wage

California workers are the most recent to win a major victory in the movement for a $15 minimum wage. Only days after labor, community groups and low-wage workers qualified a statewide ballot initiative for $15/hour by 2021, Governor Jerry Brown counter-proposed raising the wage to $15 by 2023. If anyone tells you radical change isn’t possible, and to settle for incremental change instead,” writes US Uncut, “tell them to look at what the Fight for 15 movement has accomplished.”


In Seattle, Tacoma, Oregon and now California, low-wage workers and supporters used a ballot initiative to force $15 onto the agenda. In each case, big business and their allies saw the writing on the wall. Independent political action has been a key component to every concrete victory for $15 to this date, including strikes, mass demonstrations, and political challenges through ballot initiatives, to clearly expose the interests of big business against the interests of working class communities. Faced with a strong workers movement, politicians who previously ignored $15/hour came under pressure to side with workers’ demands.

In Minneapolis, 15 Now Minnesota is launching a ballot initiative for a $15/hour minimum wage. Despite thousands of workers and supporters organizing for $15 as a concrete step to deal with Minnesota’s worst in the nation racial and economic disparities, city officials haven’t acted to solve the crisis of poverty pay facing over 100,000 workers, mainly women and workers of color. Winning $15 in Minneapolis will take a mass movement of workers building pressure from below, ready to take $15 to the ballot and turn the passive 82% support for $15 in Minneapolis (shown by a recent poll) into active organizing to win.

Earlier this month, Oregon workers won a tremendous victory when Governor Kate Brown signed a statewide minimum wage increase, raising Portland workers to $15 by 2022. While Oregon workers and $15 supporters continue the fight against state government pre-emption on municipal legislation to deal with workers’ rights issues, the statewide increase would not have happened without a strong ground campaign fighting to get $15/hour on the Oregon ballot.

The movement for $15 should be very clear: even when politicians cut across worker organizing to reach consensus with business, these victories are a result of the strength of grassroots organizing by low-wage workers, labor unions and supporters.

Working class communities are winning by organizing independently. Our movement has shifted the national debate. Even Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who didn’t initially support the call for a $15 minimum wage, has shifted under pressure from worker organizing, to raise the demand for $15 as part of his call to build a “political revolution against the billionaire class”.

When status quo politicians don’t clearly stand on the side of working people, we’ve proven our movement can assert itself by mounting a political challenge, through a ballot initiative or by running our own candidates who will firmly represent the interests of working people.

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March for $15 Now in Jersey City! Sunday April 3rd, 1:00pm

Sunday April 3, 2016 1:00pm
Journal Square

After two years of organizing in the Garden State, we are seeing the power of the working class. Unions are winning $15/hour at the bargaining table. Jersey City has instituted a $15/hour minimum wage for city workers. In Trenton, legislators are preparing for a ballot initiative next year.

As we celebrate these victories, we need to continue organizing workers to pressure the political system. We are not going to accept long phase-in periods, loopholes, or other concessions.

WE DEMAND $15 NOW!

To Join The Facebook Event Click Here

Print And Distribute The Flyer Click Here

Co Sponsors- Socialist Alternative, Food Not Bombs, Anakbayan NJ, NJ Sisterhood, Industrial Union Council, Newark Science and Sustainability Inc., Filipino Immigrants & Workers Organizing Project (FIWOP), Food And Water Watch, NJ Peace Action, Action 21, NJ Badass Teachers Association, People’s Organization For Progress, Green Party NJ, Solidarity Singers, Socialist Party New Jersey, Central Jersey Coalition Against Endless War, Latino Action Network (LAN), Greater New Jersey Pride at Work, Central NJ Democratic Socialists of America, Community of Friends in Action, NJ Working Families Alliance, NY Metro Area Postal Union, Decarcerate The Garden State, Communications Workers Of America New Jersey

For More Information, or to put your organization on the list of Co-Sponsors Email15nownj@gmail.com

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BACKERS OF $15 MINIMUM WAGE PLAN TO LAUNCH MINNEAPOLIS BALLOT CAMPAIGN

via Erin Golden, Star Tribune
“Minneapolis residents may have another item to vote on at the polls this November: raising the city’s minimum wage to $15 per hour.

Members of the group 15 Now Minnesota said they’re tired of waiting for the Minneapolis City Council to act on calls for a higher minimum wage, so they’re taking the issue directly to voters.”

Read Full Star Tribune coverage Here
Read Minnpost Coverage Here:
Civil Rights Groups Launch Push to Get $15 Minimum Wage on Minneapolis Ballot 
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15 Now Minnesota Launches $15 Minimum Wage Ballot Initiative Campaign  
Amid massive support and City Council inaction, activists appeal directly to voters

Minneapolis — Low-wage workers in the Twin Cities are launching a grassroots campaign to put a $15 minimum wage on the ballot in Minneapolis in 2016. The initiative is backed by 15 Now Minnesota, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC), Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL), the Minneapolis NAACP, the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG), the Minneapolis chapter of Black Lives Matter and other community and labor organizations. These groups will come together for a ballot campaign launch event on February 27th, a mass meeting to bring together all workers and supporters of a $15/hr.

After months of coalition building with supportive organizations and low-wage workers, organizers with 15 Now Minnesota are confident the initiative can win. They point to a recent poll that showed 82% support for $15/hour among Minneapolis voters, victories in other cities across the country, the popularity of Bernie Sanders’ campaign and high voter turnout in 2016.

“Under pressure from big business, city hall backed away from the Working Families Agenda, a key set of policies to address Minnesota’s worst in the nation equity gaps. But we don’t think the rest of Minneapolis agrees that a $15 minimum wage can wait. We’re building a mass movement of workers who need $15/hour now,” said 15 Now organizer Ginger Jentzen. “This initiative is designed to put that decision back into the hands of those most affected by poverty wages.”

Many major cities across the country have taken bold steps to address poverty wages over the past year, such as New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. More than 4 in 10 workers nationwide are paid less than $15 an hour, including more than half of African-American workers and 6 in 10 Latino workers. Supporters say $15 is one of the most impactful single steps we can take towards racial and economic equity in Minneapolis.

“The $15 ballot initiative is an opportunity to take a lead and fight against the racial and economic disparities tearing our city apart. When I talk with our supporters, they are sick and tired of working longer hours for lower wages. They’re tired of the race to the bottom,” said Claire Thiele, a low-wage worker and 15 Now volunteer. “If the Council won’t act, we will.”

“As a small business owner, I pay my employees a living wage and support $15,” said Brett Mattson, owner of the South Minneapolis restaurant, Cap’s Grill. “My restaurant business is expanding. My employees are happy and most have stayed with me. It can work for Minneapolis too.” ###

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STATEMENT ON OREGON’S NEW MINIMUM WAGE: WILL THE BALLOT MEASURE CONTINUE?

via Oregonians for $15

On February 18th, Oregon’s state legislature gave final passage to a minimum wage bill that will move Oregon to the highest minimum wage in the nation. Although not a statewide $15, the partial and extended increase that will move 25 Portland area cities to $15 by 2023 is clearly the result of massive pressure brought on legislators and the business sector by 15 Now Oregon and the growing national movement for $15.Unfortunately,as all the living wage studies show$15 isn’t even enough in Portland right now let alone by 2023, andthe bill’s attempt to account for minor differences in cost of living throughout the state by phasing in three different regional minimum wages accomplishes little other than leaving hundreds of thousands of working people behind.

The bill increases the minimum wage in three tiers. In the 18 counties the bill defines as rural, the minimum wage increases to $12.50 by 2022. For the rest of the counties outside of the Portland Metro area the minimum wage increases to $13.50 by 2022. And for the 25 cities in the Portland Metro area, the minimum wage will increase $14.75 by 2022, and after the cost of living adjustment in 2023 the wage for those 25 cities will reach $15 per hour or higher.

Unfortunately $15 isn’t even enough in the Portland area right now, let alone by 2023. Furthermore, the bill’s attempt to account for minor differences in cost of living throughout the state by phasing in three different regional minimum wages accomplishes little other than leaving hundreds of thousands of working people behind.

Still, it is important to recognize the massive and historic significance for the broader movement in the fact that 25 cities in Oregon are now on a clearly defined path to a $15 minimum wage. We sincerely hope that victory serves to inspire others across the nation to continue to Fight for $15.

We recognize the significance in the fact that Oregon will now move to the highest minimum wage in the nation.

We also recognize the material importance of the fact that half a million low-wage workers and their families here in Oregon will now be getting raises of up to a dollar per hour every year for the next six years, raises that they had no guarantee of prior to the passage of this bill.

It is important to recognize and take stock of these things, recognize them for the victories that they are in and of themselves, and thank 15 Now Oregon, 15 Now PDX, Jobs with Justice, PCUN, OSEA, OFNHP, Laborers Local 483 and all the other organizations, low-wage workers, labor activists, and small business owners across the state who have poured their time and their effort, their hearts and souls into this struggle for the past two years. To all of you, we say thank you and we appreciate you.

At the same time, we also have to recognize that the new minimum wage plan for Oregon is a far cry from the statewide $15 minimum that Oregonians have been demanding for those past two years.

Aside from leaving most of Oregon behind at a lower minimum wage without restoring local control over minimum wage laws, perhaps the most glaring deficiency in the recently passed bill is that despite moving Oregon toward the highest minimum wage in the nation, it does not even begin to create a living wage anywhere in our state. It doesn’t create minimum wages that allow low-wage workers and their families to be self-sufficient. According to the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Oregon, a single parent needs anywhere from $15-23 per hour in one half of Oregon’s 36 counties in order afford the basics for her family. That study was conducted in 2014, not in 2023. Yes this bill does increase the minimum wage, but it is too low and too slow.

As this bill is clearly inadequate in providing a living wage for working Oregonians, we will continue collecting signatures for IP 41, the statewide $15 ballot initiative that phases in over three years, by 2019. At the same time, in light of the legislative bill’s passage there are a number of factors that need to be considered in honestly determining our continued viability for the 2016 election. Over the next month we will be having conversations with the members of our coalition and other stakeholders to examine the shifting political landscape around the minimum wage issue in Oregon. This landscape is still rapidly shifting. For example, it has already been announced that a new “bipartisan” minimum wage bill is being introduced to try and roll back the bill that just passed along party lines. Through these discussions it is our hope to discern the most strategic path forward for the continued struggle and agitation around a living wage and other issues of importance to Oregon’s working class.

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NY Times Editorial Board Calls for $15 Minimum Wage Nationwide

“Sooner or later, Congress has to set an adequate wage floor for the nation as a whole. If it does so in the near future, the new minimum should be $15.”
New York Times Editorial Board
Dec 26th, 2015 (Image via NY Times) 

We know the widespread support for a $15 minimum wage is because of the massive movement of low-wage workers organizing and building grassroots pressure to win. On January 1st, Seattle workers will get another raise in the steps toward $15/hour.

Can you donate $10, $15, or $25/month to win a $15/hour minimum wage nationwide?

We need to continue building support for $15/hour in 2016 in our communities and workplaces. Because of this growing workers’ movement, the mainstream press and establishment politicians have been forced to answer to workers’ rights. We know that without massive pressure from below, politics as-usual means little changes for working people and big business continues to make massive profits off poverty pay, unchallenged.

In five states and nine cities – including California, New York, Oregon and Washington, D.C. – voters and lawmakers will consider proposals in 2016 to gradually raise minimum wages to $15 an hour.

The ballot initiatives and pending legislation will build on momentum from this year, in which 14 states and localities used laws, executive orders and other procedures to lift wages for all or part of their work forces to $15 an hour.”

Across the country, $15/hour is a fight we can win.