Are you ready to join The Fight for $15?
There are so many questions, so many issues swirling across our front pages these days that it can be hard to prioritize which ones to pay attention to. But there are a few issues that have far reaching implications, with many complex influencing factors, that we can recognize as foundational causes for progressives. One, the issue of raising the federal minimum wage crops up regularly.
The current federal minimum wage is only $7.25. It is a fact that if you work 40 hours per week at a job that pays $7.25 an hour, you will earn $290 per week. Total. If you work for four weeks at that same job, then you will earn $1,160. Total. There is no town, no little village hidden away in the bucolic hills of Indiana or Kentucky or Colorado, where achieving the American Dream while working at minimum wage is within reach. These are hardworking Americans who often have families to support, working at jobs that may, or may not, have benefits, to pay rent and buy groceries. Think about it: If you pay $680 in rent–which is the median rent in Indianapolis–then you are left with $480 to buy food, medicine, clothing, and pay for utilities. That is not going to go very far, especially for a family. Basically, an extremely low minimum wage is condemning our country’s minimum wage earners to poverty.
The answer to this is clearly to raise the federal minimum wage. Many economists agree that raising the minimum wage a little will lift people out of poverty without negative consequences for everyone else. This makes sense on a gut level, but the data also backs it up. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “a single full-time worker at minimum wage will earn only 95 percent of their poverty threshold of $15,871. A single parent with one child will earn 92 percent of their poverty threshold.”
Power is in people
That’s what the organization The Fight for $15 is all about. The Fight for $15 was founded in 2012 amidst a worker walk-off for union rights in New York City. Since then, they have continued the struggle for a $15 federal minimum wage for workers across the U.S. On their website they proclaim, “We’ve already won raises for 22 million people across the country – including 10 million who are on their way to $15/hr – all because workers came together and acted like a union. And we will keep on fighting, no matter the challenge. We won’t back down.”
Powerful words that could have powerful consequences. The number of U.S. citizens living in poverty is a civil rights issue. It behooves us all, whether directly or indirectly affected–and we all are affected one way or the other–to support the struggle for a livable minimum wage. When folks get out of poverty, so many other challenges are removed for them.
The Fight for $15 tells us how they achieve their goals. What’s the secret to their success? You. Me. All of us who have come together to tell our stories of what it’s like trying to live on low pay from large corporations.
They reminds us, “It’s important to remember that we don’t win because politicians or companies decide out of the goodness of their hearts to give us raises. We win because workers stand together to make them give us what we deserve.”
We win because we stand up, refuse to be silenced, and take action to fight for our rights.
It’s time to stand up and fight for living wages for all. Learn more about how you can join The Fight for $15
Jacqui Viale is an educator and activist living in Long Beach California with her husband, two teenagers, two cats, a dog and a lizard. Jacqui holds a masters in Educational Administration from California State University, Long Beach.