All posts by Bryan Watson

15 Now budget

Seattle Weekly: Seattle City Council Casts 9-0 Vote to Give City Workers $15 Min. Wage; Rejects Mayor’s Call for Phase-In

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s first order of business when taking office was to sign an executive order to raise the minimum wage of city workers to $15 an hour.  However, the Mayor’s city budget did not set aside any money for the raise – rendering his executive order empty.

Under pressure from 15 Now, Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, and labor and community allies the Seattle City Council voted to fund the raise!  This represents a huge victory for the 700 city workers that made under $15 an hour.

By Ellis E. Conklin Fri., Nov 14 2014 at 01:01PM

In passing a $4 billion budget for Seattle today by a 9-0 vote, the Council’s Budget Committee also unanimously approved an amendment by Councilmember Kshama Sawant, co-sponsored by Councilmember Mike O’Brien, to set aside $1.6 million over the next two years to ensure that all city workers receive a minimum of $15 per hour beginning April 1, 2015.

The Sawant amendment made good on a promise made in January by newly elected Mayor Ed Murray to bring all city workers to $15 per hour by executive order. City unions and others, including Sawant, had been urging the city in recent months to follow through on that promise. The Mayor’s proposed 2015 budget had not included funding to raise the wages of the city’s lowest paid employees to $15 per hour.

“Today we were able to finally deliver on Mayor Murray’s unfulfilled January promise,” said Sawant, whose amendment was strongly supported by the Coalition of City Union and a broad alliance of labor and community groups.

In outlining his 2015-2016 proposed city budget on Sept. 22, Murray altered course from his January declaration by recommending that the salary boost be phased in. He called for upping the wages of the lowest paid city workers to $11 in 2015, then to $13 in 2016, and finally, in 2017, granting them the full $15-an-hour minimum wage.

The Council chose a more immediate route, deciding that all city employees should be making $15 by next April, when the law takes effect.

“This was certainly not intended to be a rebuff to the Mayor,” O’Brien told Seattle Weekly. “The Mayor did a great job on getting the minimum wage law passed, but if we can get faster in getting it implemented, then that’s great. So I am excited about this budget.”

There an estimated 500 to 700 city workers affected, many of them, according one city workers’ union, earning $12.97 an hour. These include recreation attendants for Seattle Parks and Recreation, groundskeepers at city-run golf courses, parks-maintenance workers, and dining-room attendants at Seattle Center.



Seasonal parks workers and workers for Home Forward in the City of Portland just won the first victory for $15 in the state of Oregon.

As part of a larger package of gains won by park rangers in their first contract negotiation with the city, seasonally hired parks workers  have won a starting minimum wage of $15.83 per hour, up from $12 per hour.

On the same day the news broke of the parks workers’ contract victory, a local government housing agency called Home Forward, formerly known as The Portland Housing Authority, announced it will begin paying its employees a minimum of $15 per hour.  LiUNA Local 296Oregon AFSCME Council 75, and AFSCME Local 3135 worked hard to take this stand for and win a $15 per hour minimum wage. These two same-day announcements mark the first big victories for $15 in City of Portland and in the State of Oregon. Multnomah County workers with AFSCME Local 88 are also currently demanding a fair contract and a $15 minimum wage.

Portland’s park workers organized under Laborers’ Local 483 in 2013. Local 483 has been a strong advocate for a $15 minimum wage in the Portland area. This past year Local 483 also organized Oregon Zoo workers to demand a $15 minimum wage as part of their first contract negotiations. Although the zoo workers did not win that particular demand, Laborers’ Local 483 did not give up. They continued to organize workers around the demand for $15. Now, thanks to the courage of the parks workers and the steadfast organizing efforts of Local 483, Portland has won it’s first victory in the Fight for $15.

With these contract victory the City of Portland has recognized that a living wage, and thus an appropriate starting wage for our city, is at least $15 per hour. While we commend them for that, the City can and needs to go even further. Due to the state preemption law the City can’t raise the minimum wage for all workers in Portland, but they can raise the wage to $15 for the rest of the workers who are employed both directly and indirectly by the City.

Currently, 15 Now PDX and Portland Jobs with Justice are pushing for the City of Portland to revise it’s Fair Wage Policy. This policy, which was originally won thanks to a campaign initiated by Jobs with Justice,  sets the minimum wage for workers such as security guards, custodians, parking attendants and others who work at companies that contract with the City. That wage is currently only $10.38 per hour, which is not enough to survive in our city. Our city council needs to take the next step in providing a living

Report from the Florida Front

Florida, like the rest of the South, is going to be a tough nut to crack.  Like much of the South, it is a right-to-work state with a solidly Republican state legislature.  Furthermore, Florida statute 218.077(2) forbids local jurisdictions from passing any minimum wage or other employee benefits in excess of those mandated by state or federal law.

From the git-go, we were told that the cause of the $15/hour minimum wage was doomed.  218.077(2) trumped everything, and that was that.  We could support the efforts of SEIU’s Fight for 15 to organize fast-food workers in Tampa, or support city workers in St. Petersburg in their demand for a $15 minimum for themselves.  But flying in the face of all reason, we determined that we would challenge 218.077(2) straight-on.

However, that didn’t mean just going full kamikaze.  We had discussions.  A statewide ballot initiative was considered and rejected.  For instance, organizers for this year’s statewide Medical Marijuana initiative had turned in over 1.1 million signatures to qualify it for the state ballot, but we had no base for such a massive endeavor.  So how to throw down the gauntlet in a manner commensurate with our modest means?

It’s in the Constitution

We were inspired by Article X, Section 24(a) of the Florida state constitution, which stated:

“(a) PUBLIC POLICY.  All working Floridians are entitled to be paid a minimum wage that is sufficient to provide a decent and healthy life for them and their families, that protects their employers from unfair low-wage competition, and that does not force them to rely on taxpayer-funded public services in order to avoid economic hardship”

We put in hours studying the relevant laws, determined that 218.077(2) was unconstitutional, and then drafted a resolution for the 8-member St. Petersburg City Council:

“NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the City Council of the City of St. Petersburg, that the Council calls for the Legislature of the State of Florida to repeal Statute 218.077(2), and immediately upon such repeal, the Council will move to set a minimum wage of $15 an hour for all workers without exception and without delay in implementation.”

We call it the Maria Fernandes Resolution, named after the woman who died from gas fumes while sleeping in her car.

Note that it makes two points.  There is of course the call for 15.  But essential to actually winning 15, and hopefully compelling, in terms of putting pressure on liberal Councilmembers was the bourgeois-democratic argument for Home Rule and the city’s right to set its own minimum.

An organizer for the Florida Public Services Union (FPSU) gave us a copy of their media list.  We wrote a press release announcing a September 27 press conference on the steps of City Hall, and sent it to every outlet around the state.  We followed up with phone calls to individual reporters and newsrooms.  At the conference itself, five of us from 15 Now and two reporters showed up, one from an area alternative newspaper called Creative Loafing, and the other from the Tampa Bay Times, the major newspaper in the area.  Rose Roby and I both spoke.  “15 Now challenges City Hall (1)” and “15 Now Challenges City Hall (2).”  As I stated on the City Hall steps, “We’re not calling on the St. Petersburg City Council, as it said in the Declaration of Independence, to risk their lives, or even their fortunes. We’re not asking them, not yet, anyway, to spend any money, meaning our own tax money. But we are wondering about their sacred honor.”

Result:  two friendly newspaper articles and three radio interviews.

And into the streets

Next step:  We drew up a petition, then we hit the streets.  Since it was a petition of support and not a ballot initiative, validity rates were not an issue.  The purpose was not just to impress the City Council.  It was to tell the community that we wanted them — the people nobody listened to — to have a voice.  Folks would say “I’m not registered.”  Doesn’t matter.  Sign it.  “I’m not a citizen.”  15 is for everybody.  Sign.  “I’m retired.”  Sign it for your children.  “I’m on work release.”  Doesn’t matter.  You can be part of this movement.  They sign.  The responses, particularly in the Black community, drove us even harder.

With a couple hundred signatures under our belt, we contacted individual City Councilmembers and asked to meet with them.  Four of them (Dudley, Nurse, Gerdes and Kornell) agreed to meet.  One was downright negative, other responses ranged from cautious, to skeptical, to supporting us.  Repeal of 218.077(2) was popular, but “move to set a minimum wage of $15” was dicier.

We were taken seriously.  The meetings gave us ammunition on the street, about our professionalism, about our at least being heard.  It has put us on the map.

We are beginning to develop political relationships.  FPSU has been invaluable with advice and encouragement, and we hope for an endorsement.  SEIU sees us adding pressure on the city in their contract negotiations.

For late November, we are looking forward to directly addressing the City Council at its open mike session, with more media outreach, and a possible rally on the City Hall steps.  By the end of the year, we should have some 1,500 signatures, and we can insist that the Council take up the legislation.

What if they turn it down completely?  Tough question.  Even tougher question, what if they do pass it?  Myriad open questions.

One way to look at it is that if it passes, we tout our victory and use it to leverage whatever our next move would be.  If it doesn’t pass, it gives us more time to keep petitioning and building our base for future challenges.  Win-win.  What is certain is that we need to bust our asses in the next few months while our momentum builds.  We have to create a more developed infrastructure off our petitioning base.

And we can now ask, to what do we owe our limited success?  It is indeed a “success,” but we cannot forget the “limited” aspect of the equation.  We haven’t achieved it because we are so strong.  We are still a handful.  It’s not that we are so devilishly clever.  Our moves have been simple.  The press conference was invented the day after they invented the clay tablet.  Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone back in 1876.

Three factors:

(1)       15 is hot!  It got us entrée with the press, the FPSU, and the City Council by dint of the name only.

(2)       We took our petition directly into the community.  In this era of effortless (and impotent) online petitions and millennial Twitter snake oil, it has set us apart from the rest of what I would call the soft, lazy and demoralized left.

(3)       We embrace electoral politics as a primary weapon.  By virtue of our relations with the Green Party of Florida (GPFL), which has ballot status in the state, and the fact that 15 Now is the major project of the GPFL’s St. Pete and Orlando locals, that threat is quite credible.

In meeting with City Council members, we point out that four Council districts are in play in 2015:

Charles Gerdes
Bill Dudley
Steve Kornell
Wengay Newton (term-limited out of office next year)

We also note that in 2016, half the Florida Senate and all 120 Florida House seats in the state legislature are up for grabs, and this year, 15 of 20 seats for State Senate were unopposed, and 69 of the 120 had only one major party contender.  When we present 1,500 signatures at year end, we will hardly neglect to point out that, aside from 1,500 is so cleverly 100 x 15, it is also the number required, even with a conservative projected validity rate, to file a candidate for the Florida House.  No, the GPFL is hardly a powerhouse, but when we reminded one of the more liberal City Council members that his seat was in play next year, there was a “deer in the headlights” moment followed by a quick “Don’t do that.”

Fighting for 15, and Fight for 15

Fight for 15 is one of the leading organizations in the 15 movement.  Are 15 Now and Fight for 15 rivals?  Hardly.  Relations had perhaps been uneasy between us and SEIU’s Fight for 15 organization, which is active in Tampa, organizing especially among fast food workers.  15 Now Tampa Bay and the newly formed 15 Now Central Florida, out of Orlando, showed up in some force at Fight for 15’s September 4 action in Tampa, where people briefly blocked a major street in Tampa’s Temple Terrace.  Lately, Fight for 15 has invited us to support their upcoming December 4 actions, and to be part of a coalition supporting Becky Rubright for Mayor and Joe Redner for City Council in Tampa’s upcoming non-partisan elections in March.  Both Rubright and Redner will campaign on the $15 minimum.  We intend to ask them to also explicitly raise the issue of 218.077(2), taking our resolution beyond St. Petersburg.

What has now become clear is that Fight for 15 has the “boots on the ground,” fighting for particular workers, while 15 Now, fighting for a 15 minimum wage, seeks a legislative solution, both locally and statewide, 15 for everyone.  It creates a proper division of labor where we reinforce each other.

Green for 15

While the GPFL is not terribly strong as electoral parties go, it is the strongest left-wing political party in the state and in the country.  Per the 2012 independent election results:

Jill Stein (Green) 469,628
Roseanne Barr (Peace & Freedom) 67,326
Rocky Anderson (Justice) 43,018
Stewart Alexander (Socialist) 4,430

That’s 469,628 for Stein to 114,774 for the rest, 4 to 1.

We hope to use the GPFL’s infrastructure to help spread 15 Now throughout the state.  GPFL members in Orlando were instrumental in founding 15 Now Central Florida, which is drafting a local resolution based on St. Pete’s.  GPFL locals in Alachua County (Gainesville) and Miami are moving towards taking up 15 Now, and Didier Ortiz, Green Party candidate for City Commission District 3, has been campaigning for 15 in Fort Lauderdale.

We know that Florida is going to be a very tough nut to crack.  The state legislature is overwhelmingly reactionary Republican, the Democratic Party a pathetic shell, despite the fact that Obama won the state in 2008 and 2012.  The disparity between the political superstructure and the progressive base is potentially explosive.

Low-hanging fruit

So the state legislature is a ripe target around the issue of repealing 218.077(2), particularly the Florida House where only some 1,200 valid signatures are required to qualify a candidate for 2016.  As mentioned, this year, 69 of the 120 House seats are going unchallenged by one or the other major party, and the GPFL’s ballot status creates the opportunity to make 218.077(2) a household word around the state.

Democratic and Republican honchos seem to have reached a gentleman’s agreement to save money and effort by divvying up over half the state in advance.  And once a party lets itself so atrophy, it’s not so easy to get back In the saddle should an independent threat arise.

As the table below shows, this pattern is repeated throughout the South.

state unopposed total seats pct
Florida Senate: 15 20 75.0%
Florida House: 69 120 57.5%
Alabama Senate: 18 35 51.4%
Alabama House: 65 105 61.9%
Arkansas Senate: 15 18 83.3%
Arkansas House: 29 37 78.4%
Georgia Senate: 41 56 73.2%
Georgia House: 147 180 81.7%
Louisiana Senate: 18 39 46.2%
Louisiana House: 41 105 39.0%
Mississippi Senate: 19 52 36.5%
Mississippi House: 60 122 49.2%
North Carolina Senate: 21 50 42.0%
North Carolina House: 61 120 50.8%
Oklahoma Senate: 13 25 52.0%
Oklahoma House: 66 101 65.3%
South Carolina Senate: 31 46 67.4%
South Carolina House: 93 124 75.0%
Texas Senate: 7 15 46.7%
Texas House: 105 150 70.0%
totals 934 1,520 61.4%

Thus, in many districts, an energetic independent left party of whatever stripe has the potential within the decade to become the “other” party in district after district.  Keep in mind that, while these states are under the thumb of the Republicans, their people are desperately poor.  15 Now can be the issue that allows left parties like the Green Party to mobilize the kind of electoral base among poor and working people that they currently lack, using appropriate versions of the St. Pete model discussed above.

Nixon had his “Southern Strategy.”  We have ours.

— submitted by Jeff Roby
15 Now Tampa Bay Outreach Coordinator
Secretary of the St. Pete local of the GPFL


Fight for $15 in all 50: Tom Morello and Chris Cornell rock for 15 NOW!

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.

Join 15 Now, get involved in a chapter near you, or start one in your city.  Make a donation today of $15 a month to end poverty wages.

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!


Mpls launch

Fight for $15 at Minneapolis Airport Sharpens

Ginger Jentzen

On Monday, September 15, workers at the Minneapolis-St.Paul International Airport (MSP), backed by dozens of community supporters, delivered 1,000 petitions signed by their coworkers to the Metropolitan Airport Commission (MAC) calling for a $15 an hour minimum wage. This action, led by workers organized in 15 Now, marked the public launch of a major new front in the fight for $15.

The campaign at MSP airport emerges less than two weeks after the first major fast-food workers strike in Minnesota and amid public discussion among city councilors about $15 and hour in Minneapolis. But as the victory for $15 an hour in Seattle showed, winning a strong $15 will require escalating pressure from a grassroots movement. Winning $15 at the airport would build momentum to win in the City of Minneapolis, similar to how the win at Sea-Tac airport inspired the launch of 15 Now and the victory in Seattle.

Over the past decade, wages at the airport have been slashed and well-paid jobs have been outsourced to the lowest bidder. “This is a part of a nationwide struggle for $15. The fast-food strikes raised expectations, then Seattle workers showed it could be won. Now it’s our turn,” explained Kip Hedges, a Delta baggage handler who helped to launch the 15 Now airport campaign.

Airport workers in St. Louis, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have won a $15/hr minimum wage. (Labor Notes, 11/15/13). Just days after workers demanded $15 at the MAC, service agents in the merged American Airlines and US Airways voted to unionize with CWA-IBT, winning with 86% support.

Poverty Wages


Thousands of workers at the MSP airport make poverty wages. Delta, the largest employer at MSP, recorded $2.3 billion in profit in 2013. Some workers are paid as little as $8 an hour to clean Delta’s planes while Delta CEO Richard Anderson made $14 million in 2013, a ridiculous $7,000/ hour.

The Metropolitan Airport Commission (MAC), which governs all airport activity and commerce, is run by a board of 15 commissioners appointed by Governor Mark Dayton, as well as the mayors of Minneapolis and St. Paul, all considered liberal Democrats. At the airport and in the wider Twin Cities, the politicians preside over very sharp racial and economic divides.

To win at the airport, we will need to build pressure on politicians to act. A full victory for $15 will require building a powerful movement of workers and community supporters, with organized labor throwing its full weight behind the campaign.

But the huge support in the Twin Cities for the fight of airport workers and 15 Now is bringing together a growing movement of campaigners with a number of union locals declaring their support for 15 Now, including Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 1005, Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA), International Association of Machinists (IAM) Local 1833, the state councils of IAM and the AFL-CIO. The pressure on the politicians, Delta and other corporations to concede a basic living wage is building.

MPLS march


Corporate Politicians Feeling the Heat

Ty Moore, 15 Now National Coordinator


New chapters of 15 Now, the movement we initiated in Seattle last January, have formed in over 20 cities nationwide. Alongside the fast-food strikes and other fight for $15 campaigners, 15 Now is at the cutting edge of a wider movement combating income inequality in America.

The victory for a $15 an hour minimum wage in Seattle would not have been possible without 15 Now. Our win in Seattle opened the floodgates nationwide. Workers’ confidence, expectations, and political power are growing. Everywhere, big-business mayors and city leaders are haunted by the specter of $15 as they face mounting pressure to follow Seattle’s lead.

This summer, left trade unionists in San Francisco struck a deal with their mayor for a $15 an hour minimum wage after threatening their own ballot initiative – the same tactic 15 Now used to win in Seattle. Then in Chicago, after 21 of the 50 Aldermen declared in favor of $15, reflecting the popular pressure of workers there, 1% Mayor Rahm Emanuel moved to cut across the budding movement by promising a $13 an hour minimum wage. Facing similar pressures, Governor Cuomo has promised to support legislation that would open the door to $13 in New York City.

Finally, Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti joined the chorus, calling for $13 after labor and several city councilors introduced a proposal for $15. As an August 29 Time article pointed out, the calls for $13 in the nation’s three largest cities fall short of “the now iconic $15 demand of low-wage workers everywhere… For who, on that cold November day two years ago [when fast-food strikers first demanded $15], could have envisioned that a proposal to raise the minimum wage in America’s second-largest city to more than $13 – a nearly 50% increase over three years – would not only be taken seriously but would strike some as being too modest?”

From Pittsburgh to Tampa Bay, from Madison to Tucson, 15 Now chapters are energetically building to transform workers’ growing anger – and their growing confidence – into a force for political change. But the fight looks different in different places.

Like many across the country, Oregon 15 Now chapters are fighting to overturn state “pre-emption” laws, big government bans taking away the autonomy of cities to set their own wage levels. Oregon 15 Now chapters have won important union support for their campaign, including a resolution passed by the 55,000-strong SEIU 503 statewide convention.

In Philadelphia, 15 Now has established three neighborhood action groups and is campaigning with campus workers and students to get Temple and U-Penn to ensure all campus workers get a living wage. Meanwhile, in the Roxbury neighborhood in Boston, 15 Now gathered enough signatures to put a ballot referendum for $15 to voters in November. In Minneapolis, pressure from 15 Now pushed several city council members to back a minimum wage hike, and 1,000 airport workers signed our petition for a $15 an hour minimum wage at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport (MSP).

Like the call for the 8-hour workday helped to inspire the early American labor movement, the fight for $15 is emerging as a battle cry for today’s generation of low-wage workers. Within this wider struggle, 15 Now is the only national force open to all workers to join and democratically control. As a socialist, I know that building a mass movement is the only way to defeat big business and their politicians. So I appeal to you: Join 15 Now and together let’s turn this unequal, corporate-controlled system upside down!


15 Now PDX: Weekly “Living Wage Wednesday” Rallies

15 Now Portland has been very busy this spring. Although he was not able to unseat 16-year incumbent Dan Saltzman, independent socialist candidate Nicholas Caleb ran for Portland city council on a platform based largely around the fight for a $15 minimum wage and got a great echo for his campaign.

Caleb’s campaign, along with the establishment of 15 Now and Socialist Alternative chapters in town, have brought the living wage issue to the forefront in Portland. 15 Now PDX has been holding weekly “Living Wage Wednesday” rallies outside of city hall calling on the council to take action to end poverty wages, and to embrace a $15 minimum wage.

On May 15 roughly 40 people marched into the downtown McDonald’s and read a letter aloud to the workers, customers, and bosses in solidarity with the global strike of fast food workers. Largely influenced by the 15 Now movement, and the Caleb for Council campaign, councilman Saltzman even announced that he is in favor of raising the minimum wage.

However, thanks to the restaurant lobby, since 2001 Oregon state law has preempted cities from raising the minimum wage locally. This means that any effort for $15 will require a coordinated statewide effort, or a repeal of the state’s preemption.

On June 11th, members of 15 Now PDX will give a brief testimony in front of the city council highlighting the need to raise the minimum wage, and to present them with 1,000 signatures in support of a $15 minimum wage. We know that real change doesn’t come from the top, it has to be demanded from below.


15 Now Columbus Ohio

15 Now Columbus held its first action three months ago on March 15, organizing a small demonstration in the fast-food district bordering the campus of Ohio State University. Some who took part drove nearly 100 miles to do so, and most met each other for the first time that day. To publicize the event during the preceding weeks, a volunteer rode city buses handing out leaflets and gathering contact information from interested passengers.

During the month of April, the Central Ohio Worker Center brought 15 Now volunteers and Socialist Alternative members together with numerous other organizations to plan the city’s most well-attended May Day event in many years. The theme was “Ohio Needs a Raise,” and large number of the 150 signs carried through the downtown streets on May 1 called for a $15 minimum wage.

Following the rally and march, the celebration continued at the Ohio Education Association (OEA/CEA) union hall, with speakers, tabling, conversation, and food. Many who attended demanded continuing action in support of a living minimum wage.

On May 15, 15 Now Columbus facilitated a meeting attended by 24 workers, activists, and union representatives interested in organizing support for raising the minimum wage to $15. Afterwards, several marched in solidarity with the international day of strikes.

The summer will be spent publicizing the movement throughout the city and at ComFest, where 15 Now will table and make several presentations onstage to the large audiences in attendance. 15 Now Columbus meets each month on the 15th. If you live in the area and want to get involved you should join us!


The 15 Now campaign is growing in New York City!

The 15 Now campaign is growing in New York City! After the victory in Seattle we quickly saw the Speaker of the City Council suggest she also supported $15. Yet Seattle showed that we can’t rely on promises from politicians but have to build pressure from below. With a movement we can push ‘Tale of Two Cities’ Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council to act.

We have held major interventions across the city. 15 Now marched in the “St. Patrick’s Day for All” Parade and we have held two energetic rallies and marches, joined by Green Party candidate for Governor Howie Hawkins who has made $15 a key demand in his race for governor.

On May Day, 15 Now organized a solid contingent in Union Square for a day of activities and took part in a noisy march shutting down parts of Manhattan. On May 15th, we joined striking fast food workers at high-energy, internationally publicized protests.

The response to 15 Now has been very positive in New York. Although the State of New York holds the power to set the minimum wage, in order to win the endorsement of the labor-backed, left-leaning Working Families Party, Governor Cuomo promised this would be changed. This represents a big opportunity for the campaign.

15 Now NYC plans to continue gaining petition signatures, gaining endorsements, and building a movement to demand $15. It is still the beginning of our NYC campaign but we look forward to building immense momentum over the summer. We think NYC will be a city that is truly inspired by the victory in Seattle.


15 Now has generated excitement across the spectrum in Philly

Median income in Philadelphia hovers at $31,000 per household or about $15/hr.  With over 30% of the city living in official poverty and 12% in deep poverty, an increase in the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15/hr would completely transform the city and region.

15 Now Philly launched in February  with our first action on International Women’s Day .  15 NowPhilly paved the way for a coalition with the SEIU fast food organizers at Fight for 15 and a statewide coalition called Raise the Wage PA.

Through April and May, 15 Now Philly hit the streets with a petition aimed at local and state politicians.  This petition for 15 was met with tremendous enthusiasm and opened conversations with more than 1,500 community members laying the groundwork for a broad campaign.

At our first Open Assembly on Tuesday, May 20th we moved to launch three neighborhood committees in South, North and West Philly.  These meetings will form the backbone of 15 NowPhilly action groups and further strategy to agitate and organize.

The critical strength of 15Now Philly involves our diverse organizing committee including  low wage workers from fast food, retail and home health aid industries.  15 Now has generated excitement across the spectrum in Philly.  We’re ready for real change and a new way forward for working people.Now we can point to the success of Seattle to show people that it’s possible to win.