“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.
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.
We urge all supporters of 15 Now Minnesota to fight for #Justice4Jamar by joining the 4th precinct occupation, donating to the legal fund, or writing a letter to the editor. Statement written by 15 Now MN steering committee, photo via Black Lives Matter Minneapolis.
The whole world is watching the latest battleground in the movement for black lives. For several days, large crowds have gathered to demand #Justice4Jamar. Jamar Clark died of a gunshot wound to the head inflicted by a police officer last week. Multiple witnesses say he was shot while handcuffed, “execution style.” Many 15 Now volunteers are participating in the peaceful protest and occupation at the front entry of the 4th precinct police station in Minneapolis.
We in 15 Now Minnesota join our brothers and sisters in Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, MN Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC), and the Minneapolis NAACP in demanding the following:
1) That Mayor Hodges and Chief Harteau #ReleaseTheTapes showing the homicide of Jamar Clark
2) That any prosecution of Officers Ringgenberg and Schwarze bypass a grand jury, which is not required by law
3) That the U.S. Department of Justice investigate the homicide as well as police abuses against peaceful protestors at the #4thPrecinctShutDown
4) That the Minneapolis Police Department cease its aggression and escalation tactics against peaceful protestors exercising their civil rights
These demands concern matters of basic transparency, fairness, and freedom that all people should support. We commend the young leaders of color whose outstanding efforts are sustaining the occupation, and who have also done excellent work with us for a $15 minimum wage, fair scheduling, paid sick days, and ending wage theft. We agree that state-sponsored violence against the Black community is deeply connected to economic inequality. We stand with you in demanding #Justice4Jamar, because until there is justice, there can be no true peace. #BlackLivesMatter
Thousands of workers across the country took action to demand a $15 minimum wage and other workers’ rights issues, for fair schedules, union rights and paid sick time.
In many cities, workers squarely addressed the political inaction of elected officials. Hundreds flooded into city hall or rallied in front of government buildings, to demand that local and state governments, who’ve been under enormous pressure from these rolling and escalating demonstrations and strikes, take urgent action on $15.
Here are a few highlighting reports from 15 Now members organizing across the country:
15 Now Philadelphia Today in Philly dozens of fast food workers walked off the job at 6am. After a 6am strike line at a North Philly McDonalds, workers staged actions at fast food restaurants across Philadelphia. At noon, fast food workers joined janitors organizing with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) to march on Comcast to demand $15 and a union for all Comcast workers. They attempted to enter the Comcast tower but were denied entrance by police.
The main action was a large march from City Hall to a McDonalds in Rittenhouse Square. About 400 people, including progressive City Coucilwoman-elect Helen Gym and State Senator Daylin Leach, who had introduced a statewide $15 minimum wage bill, were joined by teachers union and service worker union leaders. We took over the open-air center of City Hall and marched down Broad street. The march was high energy.
15 Now member and Temple student Zoe Buckwalter closed the rally with a call on Philadelphia’s incumbent Mayor and City Council to take immediate action as soon as they take office to introduce binding $15 minimum wage legislation January 2016 and talked about the ongoing campaign at Temple to win $15 for security officer, cafeteria workers, and student workers.
Watch Video of Lancaster, PA Subway worker #15Now
15 Now NJ
A few weeks after two county legislatures, the Essex and Hudson Boards of Chosen Freeholders, passed a resolution calling on the New Jersey State Legislature to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour, the momentum to fight for $15 was strong in Jersey City. Despite the rain, dozens of workers and students gathered at Jersey City’s City Hall for a rally. Later, Jersey City’s City Council voted to support a statewide $15/hr minimum wage and Mayor Steve Fulop came out in support of the measure. Local organizing and the national #Fightfor15 movement has seriously shifted the conversation about poverty and inequality in New Jersey.
Check out this article covering the demonstration
15 Now PDX (click for full article) In Portland, OR hundreds of people marched and rallied for $15 and a union as part of the national day of action. The rally highlighted local janitors and homecare workers, who raised their voices to demand a $15 wage. There are about 9,000 janitors and homecare workers in the Portland area who still don’t make $15. They are being supported by the Portland Area Campaign for $15, a coalition made up of Portland Jobs of labor and community groups, including 15 Now PDX, that is working to raise wages to $15 for 30,000 Portland area workers by 2017 through contract negotiations, voluntary commitments, and new organizing campaigns.
At today’s Dia de Los Meurtos themed rally, workers and allies marched around the Pittock Building chanting to draw down good jobs with living wages. Earlier this year the Pittock Building began hiring out it’s janitorial services to a low-wage, non-union contractor. The building has been the site for other $15 and union protests over the past year.
15 Now Northwest Wisconsin
At 4:00 pm on Tuesday, November 10th, the Eau Claire Area School District’s Hourly Compensation Committee met at the school board office. The school district’s recently completed compensation study showed that many workers are underpaid, well under $15 an hour, though the administration has decided to withhold the annual inflationary wage adjustment of 1.67% to it’s lowest paid workers.
Members of 15 Now Northwest Wisconsin attended this meeting to demand that the ECASD administration grant this inflationary wage adjustment to all workers making less than $15 an hour.
15 Now organizer Ty Moore spoke with the Real News Network prior to a major day of action on November 10th. Low-wage workers, supporters, students and the labor movement are moving into action demanding $15/hour minimum wage and workers’ rights in hundreds of cities across the US. #FightFor15 #15Now
Click on the photo below to watch the full interview:
Last week Temple administration announced their intention to build a football stadium in North Philadelphia. President Theobald and the Board of Trustees intend to raise 100 million dollars for the project. The administration has not consulted with students, faculty, or the community about the massive project to tear up city blocks.
President Theobald and Chairman of the Board of Trustees Patrick O’Connor have made this decision without the approval of students, faculty, and the community. Temple University intends to use private funds from unnamed donors and $20 million dollars in state funds to move ahead with plans to further gentrify North Philadelphia, displace community resources and imperil funds needed to pay campus workers and minimize tuition costs . Temple University is a public school that belongs to its students, its workers, and the residents of North Philadelphia. It can not function as a corporation where presidents and chairmen are CEO’s; Temple is a public university and the people have a right to a voice in decisions that affect all aspects of the community. Our school is funded by student tuition money and taxpayer dollars. We as students and workers will be held accountable for misspent funds as we pay down student debt, and we deserve a voice in making decisions about how Temple utilizes its funds.
In a recent article published in the Daily News, staff writer David Murphy demonstrates that many other universities in similar locations and financial situations, like the University of Central Florida and Akron, have invested in on-campus stadiums with negative financial results. Schools have lost millions of dollars on stadiums and the extra administration they maintain to manage them and have used student tuition to pay for the extra costs. These stadium plans have frequently coincided with layoffs, wage cuts, and tuition hikes to offset million dollar deficits created by the football program.
In addition, the $20 million dollars of state funding pledged to Theobald by much-maligned former Republican Governor Corbett is taxpayer money that should be used to ease the burden of tuition and raise wages for workers. Public funds do not exist to build fiscally risky football stadiums, but to make college more accessible to all. This is our money, we have a right to say where it is spent, and we do not want the money spent on a stadium, we want it spent on students, workers, and community programs.
For years Temple has had negative relations with the community. From buying up properties and building the university out into local communities to over-policing of residents, Temple continues its assault on North Philadelphians day in and day out. While Temple claims to have good relations with its neighbors we know from extensive testimony and input from community leaders that the neighborhood has nothing but disdain and contempt for the university. Already Temple uses gentrification and police force to push residents further and further out. Already residents complain of the disrespect shown by some Temple students who engage in destructive and reckless behavior at late hours, littering the streets with trash and broken bottles. The South Philly stadiums are separate from the city itself, not placed in the middle of a residential neighborhood. An on-campus stadium will dramatically shift the culture of North Philadelphia from a residential area to a clogged commercial sporting complex filled with belligerent drinking, excessive noise, and unpredictable traffic patterns. President Theobald has already admitted there are no plans in place to handle the traffic of thousands of fans in a residential neighborhood.
Temple’s decision to build a 100 million dollar stadium shows where Temple’s priorities lie. While the board intends to raise tuition by 3% this year, they want to spend 100 million dollars to build a stadium. While campus workers are still paid under $15 an hour and students are the lowest paid workers, Temple decides to spend public funds on building a stadium. While adjunct professors, who make up the majority of the faculty, fight for the right to unionize and higher pay and benefits, Temple decides to spend money on building a stadium. While Temple has been instructed to build a sexual assault crisis center on campus and take rape and assault seriously, Temple decides to spend money on building a stadium. While the North Philadelphia community continues to suffer from deep poverty, food deserts, and lack of access to quality education, Temple decides to invest in building a football stadium. Temple president Neil Theobald and Chairman of the Board Patrick O’Connor are clearly out of touch with the everyday struggles of students, faculty, campus workers, and the surrounding community. Who does Temple have in mind in building the stadium? We can only assume the administration is looking to benefit investors, the corporations like Comcast and Duane Morris that dominate Board of Trustees, and the out-of-state students looking for a football centered school.
Temple was founded on the principle that higher education should be accessible to all and that working class people in North Philadelphia deserve affordable access to higher education. Temple is for the working people of Philadelphia, for people who live in North Philadelphia, and for students who are trying to get an education and better themselves.
We will not let this stadium plan pass through the board quietly. In the weeks to come we will be garnering support from students, workers, and the community. Temple must listen to the people that make up this university and the people that live in North Philadelphia. Here is a short list of things Temple university could be spending money on instead of building a football stadium.
Pay all workers including student workers and subcontracted workers at least $15/hr.
Provide scholarships for students.
Immediately freeze tuition hikes
Allow adjunct professors to unionize and provide full pay and benefits.
Invest in a sexual assault crisis center and making Temple a rape-free campus.
Invest in community relations and public access to university resources.
Build a program that provides a pathway to affordable higher education for North Philadelphia youth.
As students, faculty, workers, and community we deserve more from our public university
Three years after New York fast food workers first went on strike demanding $15 an hour, cities and states across the country have significantly increased their minimum wages. These victories were given tremendous momentum by the historic impact of the $15 an hour struggle in Seattle in the Spring of 2014.
Like many other improvements in the lives of working people throughout the history of this country, these minimum wages had to be fought for, and anti-capitalists led the way. Nobody in Seattle’s halls of power were talking about a $15 an hour minimum wage until Socialist Alternative’s Kshama Sawant was elected in November of 2013. A few months later, they’d established the highest minimum wage in the country after multiple protests, neighborhood meetings, pickets and even strikes. In January, thousands of Seattle workers will get another raise on the path to $15 an hour.
After the Seattle victory, the labor movement across the country was encouraged to win the battle for wage increases. Also, many local politicians proposed enhanced minimum wage proposals in order to both build their electoral bases and sometimes to try to “cut off” the movement from growing and demanding more. New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington DC and countless other cities have seen big improvements for low-wage workers. In 2016, the battles will go statewide in California and Oregon.
Despite these victories, we should make no mistake about the overall situation–corporate America is still trying to make us pay for the crisis that their system created. They’re entrenching the “two tier” system of low wages for new hires in the auto industry. Big business is also still on the attack against public education, forcing the Seattle teachers to fight back and go on strike. Workers are showing a growing willingness to struggle, also reflected politically in electric support for Bernie Sanders’s message of “a political revolution against the billionaire class”.
Throughout the history of social justice struggles and the labor movement in this country, initial struggles led by anti-capitalists have given life to broader struggles of the working class. The mass “sit-down strikes” of the mid-1930s–which transformed labor relations in this country–were preceded by three strikes in 1934 led by anti-capitalists. The labor uprising of the 1970s was foreshadowed by the radicalism in the anti-Vietnam War movement, the civil rights movement and the black power struggle. The biggest strike wave in the history of this country (per capita), in the 1940s, came at a time of looming attacks on union rights, most notably the anti-labor Taft-Hartley Act against the right to strike.
Even when the bosses are on the offensive, we can fight back and win. The 15 struggle can pave the way for bigger movements of workers, youth and oppressed people.
The coming wage increase in Seattle is a reminder of the struggle it took to win: electing working-class candidates and building grassroots mass movements with the support of union activists. In the week of November 10th and 12th, low-wage workers, unions and students across the country will once again raise 15 as part of a national day of action and a Million Student March, alongside demands for union rights, paid sick time and free public education.
The movement to increase minimum wages should link up with other struggles of working people–from battles to defend and extend public education to the Black Lives Matter movement. We should build on our strength and mobilize to win 15 in more cities and statewide in California and Oregon in 2016. These struggles, built through the grassroots methods advocated by 15 Now, can help working people gain the confidence they need to challenge other injustices of the system.
Another victory in the movement for a $15/hour minimum wage! The University of Washington will raise the wages of all workers, including student workers, to $15 by 2017.
The University of Washington is the biggest employer in Seattle, but UW was refusing to follow the citywide minimum wage law passed in June 2014 until Reclaim UW, a coalition of student groups and labor unions, organized to pressure the administration.
Last year, Northeastern University in Boston passed a student-led referendum supporting $15/hour for all campus workers. Both victories highlight what can be achieved when campus workers, labor and students organize for their right to a living wage.
Our work doesn’t stop here. UW says the change will affect 5,500 workers, including about 3,500 student workers on the Seattle campus. We still need to fight to make sure UW follows through on $15/hr for all UW workers, and to grow the movement on campuses nationwide!
*Workers, supporters call on Democratic presidential candidates to take up calls in the Fight for $15!*
Minneapolis, Minn — On Friday, August 28th, outside of the Hilton in Minneapolis where Hilary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and other Democratic presidential hopefuls spoke at the convention for the Democratic National Committee, community members with 15Now Minnesota rallied to demand that the candidates and the Democratic National Committee officially endorse a $15 minimum wage across the country.
Workers and community members came together as part of the #MPLSWorks campaign to call for $15 minimum wage, paid sick time, fair scheduling and rules to end wage theft in Minneapolis. (Sign the petition, http://mplsworks.org/ ).As a result of workers building pressure through mass demonstrations for $15/hour, the Democratic Party adopted
We know that $15/hour is on the agenda because of workers organizing across the country, and we know it will take a movement of thousands, building pressure from below, to win.
Minnesota has some of the worst racial economic disparities in the country, but the divides we face are a national problem. Structural racism has led to drastic racial income inequality. Far too many people, especially people of color, are earning less than a living wage. The presidential candidates must address our racial economic inequality crisis as a central part of their campaigns.
Via 15 Now Minnesota – Go to www.15NowMN.org for more info
In a groundbreaking victory for the movement for a $15 minimum wage, the Los Angeles City Council voted 13-1 today to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15/hour by 2020, with additional yearly increases tied to the cost of living beginning in 2022. Since the vote was not unanimous, a final vote must be taken on June 10, but city councilors and labor activists are confident the ordinance will pass. Los Angeles’ wage hike comes after successful grassroots campaigns in Seattle and San Francisco, but L.A. will be the largest U.S. city to enact a $15 minimum wage, and will pave the way for other major metros, such as New York City, to follow suit.
The hugely popular demand for $15/hour is taking off across the country. On April 15th, the biggest demonstrations for $15 in the movement to date brought thousands into the streets nationwide. In Minneapolis, just two days after over 1,000 low-wage workers and supporters marched for $15/hour, the City Council voted to establish a workgroup to “develop a recommendation for a study of the effects of establishing a minimum wage regionally and locally.” The workgroup will also develop policy proposals to address workers’ rights issues including paid sick and safe time, fair scheduling, and curbing wage theft.
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges does not support a $15 minimum wage locally, saying it’s best to raise wages on a regional level. But when the Los Angeles City Council took the lead, passing a preliminary vote for $15/hour last week, the California Senate voted on June 1 to raise wages across the state to $13/hour by 2017.
In a clear response to grassroots pressure, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay came out in support of a bill to raise his city’s minimum wage to $15 by 2020 as well. It is expected to be filed at the city’s board of aldermen on June 5. If passed, St. Louis would become the first midwestern city to implement a $15 minimum wage.
The wide-reaching effects of local movements for a living wage and the key role unions have played in these successes are not to be underestimated, explained 15 Now MN Organizer Ginger Jentzen. “These victories prove that the strategy for local governments taking the first step works, and the ripple effect across the country from winning $15 in Seattle and San Francisco. These victories are raising workers’ confidence in organizing, seeing that it’s possible to win when they build pressure from below. ”
Via 15 Now MN – Go to www.15NowMN.org for more updates
On Monday May 18th, the Metropolitan Airport Commission (MAC) voted on a $1 wage increase for around 3,000 low-wage workers at the Minneapolis- St. Paul Airport. The MAC will return to the June meeting to vote on the implementation plan of the increase, slated to begin in August at the same time as Minnesota’s statewide minimum wage increase. This small victory sets an important precedent as the first local government body in Minnesota to raise wages, opening the door to Minneapolis and beyond.
Airport workers, 15 Now, the Service Employees International Union, Teamsters and other unions packed the meeting to demand the MAC return in June with a proposal for $15/hour. MSP – Airport workers have organized demonstrations, rallies, and a broad community campaign for $15/hour over the last 10 months, which has been endorsed by Representative Keith Ellison and the Minnesota AFL-CIO.
Abera Siyoum, a low-wage Air Serv worker, addressed the MAC with hundreds of union cards signed by his co-workers who are organizing for representation with the Service Employees International Union Local 26. “This $1 increase will not help my co-workers get off welfare. I’m tired of poverty pay and this increase will not help me spend more time with my family and pay my bills,” Siyoum said.
After low-wage workers addressed the MAC, in a unified message that a $1 wage increase is not enough, MAC Chairman Dan Boivin acknowledged, “This proposal will not bring anyone out of poverty[…] But I don’t support, at this time, going any higher.”
Over the last 15 years, wages at the airport have fallen 45% as airlines outsource work to subcontractors who relentlessly drive down wages in an effort to increase profits. Rising labor unrest against this is the main reason that, in February, Governor Dayton appointed two rank and file airport workers to the MAC, including low-wage Air Serv worker Ibrahim Mohamed. At Mohamed’s inauguration ceremony, Dayton said, “The fact that he was making $12.50 an hour a few years ago, according to reports, and they reduced that to minimum wage is just disgraceful.” The current proposal for $10/hour would not even raise workers like Mohamed back to their previous salaries.
Advocates have also pointed out how poverty wages at MSP Airport disproportionately affect the East African community, which reinforces Minneapolis’ record as one of the most racially unequal cities in the country. A recent report by the Center for Popular Democracy, Waiting for Take-off, shows how a $15/hour minimum wage at MSP Airport would put $25 million into the East African community annually, adding nearly $10 million in tax revenue for the local economy.
MSP Airport is one of the most profitable airports in the country. Delta Airlines boasts that 25 to 30% of its total profits come from MSP Airport, partially because of widespread use of low-wage subcontractors. “Out of his own salary, Delta CEO Richard Anderson could pay 460 workers $15/hour,” said Kip Hedges, a former Delta baggage handler who was fired in December for supporting $15/hour.
The proposal passed with an amendment to study the impact of a quality service wage, which could raise wages for these same workers to around $15/hour. A MAC vote on the quality service wage will require a mobilization of workers organizing for $15/hour increasing pressure on the MAC leading up to the June vote.
In March Governor Dayton acknowledged the MAC had “failed airport workers.” “We ask Governor Dayton to continue support for MSP workers by directing the MAC to pass the quality service wage, raising these workers to $15/hr,” Hedges continued. “Raising these low-wage workers up to $15 would be a stepping stone for future union organizing and strengthen the confidence of all workers at MSP to fight for $15/hour and union rights. We stand united with SEIU, Teamsters, the IAM, the MN-AFL and airport workers behind the demand for $15/hour.”
“The MAC is discussing wage increases because of the pressure airport workers have escalated around the demand for $15. The MAC has a clear choice. Either it takes action to have a positive effect on the lives of thousands of MSP workers by passing $15/hour, or it caves to the corporate trade groups like Airlines for America, allowing Delta and other companies to continue outsourcing Minneapolis workers to poverty wage employers,” said 15 Now MN organizer Ginger Jentzen.