A Sub-Minimum Wage for Teenagers Would Not Help Most Employers, Would Provide an Unfair Subsidy for Fast Food and Retail Chains, and Would Create Bad Incentives
Today LiUNA took over Living Wage Wednesday and ignited a spark that will spread throughout this city and state. Around 75 Laborers and Portland citizens marched to City Hall and held a grand spectacle of a rally. A giant Fat Cat with his claws clasped tightly around a worker’s neck waved to honking motorists as the crowd chanted “15 NOW! 15 NOW!” At one point the Big Bad Corporate Boss showed up, and LiUNA’s champion for $15 came to the rescue, boxing it out with and knocking out the Corporate Boss, who gets rich by paying his workers poverty wages.
After the Big Bad Corporate Boss was subdued, the rally continued on the steps of Portland City Hall with a great line up speakers. 15 Now PDX organizer Justin Norton-Kertson spoke about the growing income inequality in Oregon, and the need for people return to their towns and neighborhoods and organize, not just within union shops, but among neighbors and communities, and among all the non-unionized low wage workers such as fast food workers. Zack Carver from the Laborer’s Union spoke about the need for organized labor to come together behind the Fight for $15.
Heidi Sirpress is a single mother, a minimum wage worker, and a member of the Portland International Socialist Organization. She spoke about the broken and dysfunctional nature of the global capitalist system, as well as about her experience struggling to raise a child and put herself through school on a minimum wage job.
Next Jaime Partridge, a retired member of the Oregon State Association of Letter Carriers, read the resolution they just passed in endorsement of the Fight for $15 in Portland and the state of Oregon. Anne McDonnell, a zoo worker with LiUNA Local 483here in Portland, also spoke, and announced to the rally that their union just made the demand a $15 minimum wage for their workers at the bargaining table! Finally, Nicholas Caleb ended the line up of speakers by talking about what his run for city council accomplished, including the formation of 15 Now PDX, and he encouraged the city to continue to Fight for $15.
After the speakers concluded, the rally moved inside City Hall with letters to deliver to each of the council member and the mayor. Security tried to allow only 5 people to enter the building and deliver the letters, but the ralliers demanded entrance to their public institution and access to their political representatives. Much to the dismay of City Hall security, the whole group was able to get inside. The group headed up to the second floor and proceeded to each of the council members’ offices, where Alexandra Meyer spoke on behalf of the group and delivered the letters. All of the letters were delivered the council members’ office staff.
Dan Saltzman was the only council member who was in his office at the time. He came out and spoke with us, accepted the letter, and said he agreed that we need to raise the minimum wage in Portland. While we appreciate him coming out and speaking with us, he unfortunately did not and has not yet committed to $15 for the City of Portland.
After the letters were delivered the rally made its way back downstairs and concluded with a call to continue the Fight for $15. 15 Now PDX is excited to continue teaming up with unions and workers around the city to hold great events like this. But Big Business and the Big Bad Corporate Boss are not going to let us have $15/hr without throwing millions of dollars into the fight against us. Help us fight Big Business and keep the pressure on our city council by making a contribution to the Fight for $15 in Portland today!
The Seattle City Council held a public forum on the $15/hour minimum wage on May 13. Continue reading
“Workers can’t wait ’til 2025″ — Councilmember Sawant, the first to sign the petition
On the same day fast food workers were walking off the job in 150 cities in the U.S. and over 30 countries around the world, 15 Now was officially starting to gather signatures for its $15 an hour charter amendment. The first to sign the petition to get the amendment onto the ballot was city councilmember Kshama Sawant. Continue reading
by Anna Minard from The Stranger
Back in January, a poll of Seattle voters showed a whopping 68 percent supported a $15 minimum wage, a level of support that was surprising even to the labor coalition that funded the poll (and the pollsters who conducted it). But that was before the debate heated up, before multiple proposals were out, before big business had time to start organizing. What, people wondered, would voter support look like now that we’ve been debating the issue for four months?
Well, according to a just-released poll by the same firm and paid for by SEIU 775: Support for a $15 minimum wage has now hit 74 percent of likely Seattle voters.
Read more here.
It started with Occupy three years ago when outrage against inequality poured onto the streets. Then fast food workers in New York went on strike calling for 15, and the movement spread across the country.
Last fall, a small town south of Seattle called SeaTac passed a referendum to raise the minimum wage to 15 while socialist Kshama Sawant defeated a corporate Democrat and won a seat on the Seattle City Council by campaigning for 15.
Now fast food workers are walking off the job in 150 cities across the U.S. and 30 countries around the world on May 15th and Seattle is on the verge of becoming the first major city to win 15. Under pressure from Kshama Sawant and the campaign she launched called 15 Now, the Seattle Mayor has put forward a proposal for $15 an hour minimum wage.
This historic achievement shows the power of our movement. But the Mayor’s proposal also bears the mark of big business with loopholes like a delayed phase-in to get up to 15 over many years. 15 Now in Seattle is pushing ahead to close the corporate loopholes and win the strongest possible 15.
The key to our success is building maximum pressure from below.
The movement for $15 is winning. Now close the corporate loopholes!
The fact that Seattle City Council is seriously debating a proposal to guarantee all workers a $15 minimum wage is due to pressure from our grassroots movement. We’re winning! But the fight isn’t over yet. Continue reading
The 15 Now campaign is entering a new phase in Massachusetts, taking the question of a $15/hour minimum wage to the ballot in several state representative districts. We will be filing a non-binding ballot question asking the workers of the Commonwealth to vote in favor of a $15/hour minimum wage.
Governor Patrick is proposing an increase to $10.10 over the next two years with no cost of living increase. This is not good enough, as $10.10 will not come close to fully addressing the tremendous cost of living in the Bay State.
15 Now New England will put it to a vote in several districts across the state, including East Boston, Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury, Dorchester, Worcester, Lowell and Amherst. It will allow the working people of Massachusetts to register their support for a minimum wage that actually will make a difference in our lives and living standards.
15 Now will use this opportunity to speak with workers to inform them of the movement and create a completely grass-roots campaign of community members. Because it is non-binding, the ballot question will not immediately affect the minimum wage, but by building community support and a significant base, the state legislature will be forced to take a real stand on the issue of the living standards of working people they claim to represent. We can make real change in New England by organizing around the question of $15 and registering our support at the polls this November.
These next couple months are essential to ramp up the energy for the movement on the East Coast and 15 Now New England. Through our ballot initiative, we will be able to enter into working class neighborhoods, hold meetings and build a real grassroots campaign around this crucial issue facing the working class of the region.