All posts by Jesse Lessinger

“Onto the Ballot, Into the Streets” in Massachusetts

Toya Chester

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.

The Case Against a “Training Wage”


Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s Income Inequality Advisory Committee have come out with a proposal for a $15/hr minimum wage that is now being debated in the Seattle City Council.  At the first city council meeting on the Mayor’s proposal (May 5), the first question from councilmembers was not “why does big business need a 3 year phase in?” or “isn’t a 7-year phase in too long?” but from Sally Bagshaw asking if there “was any compromise reached on training wages?”

We need to be clear. The minimum wage is just that – the minimum. In effect, $15 is a training wage in that it is already the minimum on which we can expect people to survive. $15/hr is not a living wage, especially not in this increasingly unaffordable city. To ask new employees to live on less is to ask them to live in poverty.


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Upcoming Fast Food Strikes in 150 Cities and 33 Countries

On May 15, fast food workers will go on strike in 150 different cities across the world, creating the largest demonstration by fast food workers in history.

Join us and the brave workers who launched the Fight for $15. Our victory in Seattle has inspired workers and organizers across the country to push for a $15/hour minimum wage, and here in Seattle, we are still fighting for stronger legislation that will get workers $15 in hourly wages as soon as possible.

You can follow the hashtag #FastFoodGlobal for more information.


Seattle – Westlake Park, 4 PM
New York City – Herald Square, 10 AM
Chicago – Rock and Roll McDonalds, 6 AM & 5 PM
Minneapolis – McDonalds @ 210 E Lake St, 4:30 PM

Tell City Council What Workers Want!

Over the next few weeks the City Council will be debating and discussing the Mayor’s proposal for raising the minimum wage. Business interests will be pressuring the Council to water it down further – we need them to know that workers can’t afford to wait for $15. After all, the rent won’t wait. We can’t phase in our bill payments.

Let’s show the council that we want a stronger $15 – one that does not give big business an unnecessary 3-4 phase in, that does not penalize workers who receive tips or healthcare, that does not have some workers waiting 10 years to receive $15, and gives workers a real $15, in today’s dollars. The Mayor’s proposal is a big step forward, but it needs to be strengthened – by removing the tip/healthcare penalties and shortening the phase in – and we need to defend against business smuggling in more corporate loopholes.

Join us at the City Council’s public discussion on the proposal. Get there early to sign up to speak!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 6 p.m.
Rainier Beach High School
8815 Seward Park Avenue South, Seattle

The Movement for $15 is Winning. Now Close the Corporate Loopholes!

Our movement has come a long way in the last year. Fast-food workers strikes, the election of Kshama Sawant and the launch of 15 Now have put enormous momentum behind the fight for $15.

Now Mayor Ed Murray, under the pressure of this movement, has announced his plan to increase the minimum wage in Seattle. His “Income Inequality Advisory Committee,” stacked with business representatives, has come forward with a plan for $15. It is a huge victory that representatives of big business and the political establishment have been forced to accept our demand for a $15 an hour minimum wage!

But we have not won yet. The Mayor’s proposal includes a phase in for big business and a longer phase in for workers who receive healthcare or tips. Some workers will be waiting a decade before they receive a Cost of Living Adjusted $15 an hour minimum wage. A decade is far too long to wait!

Not only does the Mayor’s proposal include a number of favors to big business, it could be further watered down by City Council.

We have come this far on the strength of our grass roots campaign – let’s keep the pressure up! There are now two proposals for $15 on the table. 15 Now supports the original proposal put forward by the labor unions and Councilmember Kshama Sawant.

The next few weeks are crucial. If we let up the pressure, if business feels that there is space for more backroom deals to take back what they’ve been forced to put on the table, they will seize the opportunity. We need keep the heat on the council not to side with business against workers.
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15 Now Seattle’s Response to Mayor Murray’s Proposal

“Who had a quick jump to a $15 wage on their radar a year ago?”
Jonathan Martin, Seattle Times

May Day
The movement for $15 an hour has come a long way in the last year. Brave fast-food workers walking off the job, supported by their communities, put $15 on the map. The election pledge of Kshama Sawant to fight for $15 and the launch of 15 Now have galvanized the struggle in Seattle and across the US. May Day saw a huge step forward, when Mayor Murray, under the pressure of this movement, announced a plan to give all workers in Seattle a minimum of $15.

Through protests, demonstrations, rallies, and campaigning, all those involved have made 15 a key demand, and one that, at the moment, even big business cannot openly oppose.

Mayor Murray quickly set up an “Income Inequality Advisory Committee,” but stacked it with a majority of business representatives. Nevertheless, the pressure from below, the pressure from our grassroots movement, was so overwhelming that the committee’s recommendation includes significant steps to improve working people’s lives.

The fact that we have made it so far is because of our effort in the streets, not the negotiations in City Hall. It is because business felt pressured from our movement that every single worker in Seattle will see a raise on January 1, 2015.

But we have not won yet. The mayor’s proposal needs to be discussed, significantly improved and voted on by the council members before we can rightly celebrate this as our victory. If we let up the pressure, if business feels that there is space for more backroom deals to take back what they’ve been forced to offer, they will seize the opportunity. It is important that we fight to keep working people’s voice in the room, and pressure the council not to side with business against workers.

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Kshama Sawant responds to Mayor’s proposal for 15

CM Sawant Response to Mayor’s May 1 Proposal for $15

The fact that the City Council of a major city in the US will discuss in the coming weeks raising the minimum wage to 15 is a testament to how working people can push back against the status quo of poverty, inequality, and injustice. The movement, starting with fast food workers nationwide, and pushed forward by SeaTac and 15 Now, is forcing business and the political establishment to accept raising our wages.
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NYC: May Day Coalition Demands $15 Minimum Wage

Noon-5pm @ Union Sq., NYC; 5:30pm march to Zuccotti Park where over 20 speakers are scheduled

On Thursday May 1st thousands of workers will converge on Union Square in Manhattan for what will be one of the largest May Day rallies and marches in decades. Faced with increasing deportations, depreciating wages, and expired contracts, low wage workers, immigrants, and unions are coming together to demand a better future for themselves and their families. This year’s demonstrations are centered around three key demands that include an end to deportations, retroactive pay for new city contracts, and a $15 an hour minimum wage.
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“Winning $15 is not the end, it is the beginning”

by Bryan Watson, 15 Now


The first 15 Now national conference’s call to action on the great issue of our time – inequality – was enthusiastically taken up by the more than 500 people who packed into Franklin High School’s auditorium this past Saturday. The conference demonstrated the massive support for a $15 minimum wage and the development of 15 Now into a national movement, with 15 states represented.

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