In yet another victory for the fight against income inequality, Wal-Mart workers have just won a nationwide increase in wages. Congratulations to all workers and activists, including the OUR Wal-Mart campaign, who have tirelessly fought for and alongside Wal-Mart workers! This victory will further encourage workers and activists to continue the struggle for a full $15/hour minimum wage at Wal-Mart and beyond.
All Wal-Mart workers will make at least $9/hour by April this year, and $10/hour by February 2016. Wal-Mart’s department managers will be paid a minimum of $13/hour this year, and $15/hour next year.
This will represent a transfer of $1 billion to Wal-Mart workers. This is a huge victory for the working class. After decades of systematically demoralizing working conditions and union busting, this is a small measure of economic justice for the workers whose unceasing labor makes enormous profits every year for the multi-billionaire Walton family.
If it wasn’t for the movement – the strikes of Wal-Mart workers themselves, the fast-food strikes, the passage of the SeaTac initiative for $15, Seattle’s victory, 15 Now, and others – this would not have happened. This shows again, when we get organized and demand a change, we can win. We need to keep organizing to ensure this new wage is enforced, that Wal-Mart ends its unfair scheduling practices, and that Wal-Mart is made to pay a minimum of $15 to all its workers.
On Sunday February 15th, 15 Now MN hosted a rally and fundraiser featuring Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who spoke alongside activists and community leaders. Over 250 supporters attended the event and contributed $10,000 toward building the grassroots campaign for $15 at MSP-airport and in the city of Minneapolis!
15 Now national organizer Ty Moore kicked off the rally by pointing to the growing momentum nationally for a $15 minimum wage and a recent poll showing 63% of Americans support raising the federal minimum wage to $15. Following Moore were speakers from Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC), Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL) and the 15 Now MSP-airport campaign. Ubah Warsame, a wage and housing rights activist from Seattle, offered solidarity with the struggle in Minneapolis and energized the crowd before CTUL leader and fast-food worker, Guillermo Lindsay, and MSP airport organizer Kip Hedges spoke to the effects of poverty wages on their co-workers and the dramatic impact $15 would have on their lives.
“I want to invite everyone here into a transformational struggle for $15, like the campaign for an 8 hour day was for workers 100 years ago,” said Kip Hedges, who will soon file a federal lawsuit against his illegal firing by Delta airlines which sparked outrage and galvanized support for the $15 demand at MSP-airport
Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant highlighted the 15 Now movement’s victory, which will lift 100,000 workers out of poverty in Seattle and return an estimated $3 billion back into the pockets of workers over the next decade. “The interests of corporations are fundamentally in conflict with the interests of working people,”
Sawant said, encouraging supporters to build a fierce grassroots campaign for $15. “Even though the US is the richest country in the world,” Sawant said, “[big business says] we must debate about whether workers deserve $15. Low-wage workers make this country run, we need $15 for all the workers who make Minneapolis run.”
Minneapolis City Council Members Jacob Frey and Alondra Cano spoke at the rally in support of a minimum wage increase for the City of Minneapolis, with Cano coming out in favor of $15 by the end of 2015 amidst loud cheers from the crowd. City Council member Lisa Bender also made a public donation of $1,000 to the campaign, and has since come out publicly for $15. Jacob Frey also pledged support for a minimum wage hike, though says he is not yet ready to commit to $15/hour.
Mark your calendars! Join NOC, Working America, CTUL and 15 Now MN for a Worker’s Rights Forum: $15 and Beyond on Saturday February 28th from 2-4pm. Let’s join the growing number of cities and states across the country who are taking action to raise the minimum wage, provide workers earned sick days, ensure fair scheduling, and enact other measures to address our worst-in-the country racial disparities.
15 Now wants to thank all those who spoke and donated on Sunday for their courage and support! Thanks to the Green Party of Minnesota and Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC) for sponsoring donations, and to Minneapolis City Council Members Alondra Cano, Lisa Bender and Cam Gordon for endorsing 15 Now!
The support from Councilmembers Cano, Gordon and Bender indicate the tremendous potential to win $15 in Minneapolis this year. The active and organized grassroots campaign of low-wage workers and supporters was key to winning their support, and the strengthening of this campaign will be vital to winning the support of a majority of city councilmembers. We invite all supporters to get involved today to build 15 Now MN.
The fight for a workplace rights and decent wages is linked to the fight against racial discrimination. Black workers are paid less, and are confronted with racism in the workplace.
15 Now calls for a nationwide day of action in solidarity with these workers on February 21st — the 50th anniversary of Malcolm X’s assassination. Malcolm X taught us that we have the power to organize and fight back against systematic oppression. We will honor his legacy by supporting McDonald’s workers and protesting racism at one of the most criminal low-wage employers in the US.
We call on every chapter to plan actions — a picket, a die-in, or any creative action you can think of to call attention to the injustice workers of color face.
Please send us your photos, videos, or short reports to info@15Now.org so we can post them widely and help spread the word that low workers all across the country are not only standing up and fighting for $15, but are part of the larger movement asserting #BlackLivesMatter.