The fight for a $15 hourly wage by fast food workers is turning into a broader movement. A national one-day labor action by fast food workers – Fight for 15 – is planned, and a larger coalition is being developed that includes Wal-Mart workers, home care aides, students, and others. Organizers have also enlisted the support of the faith community, and are using historical examples like Dr. Martin Luther King and previous strikes as inspiration for their effort. They are also receiving a boost from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which is not only providing money, but organizing expertise.
The organizers selected the date 4/15 because it sounds like “for 15″…the hourly wage they are seeking. They expect 10,000 at Fight for 15 protests in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
McDonald’s is the movement’s first target, but the company has not shown any signs of either raising wages or permitting unions in their restaurants. The company is facing challenges on numerous fronts: its sales are languishing amidst a changing and more competitive marketplace, and labor interests in Brazil have filed a lawsuit against the corporation.
While the movement may not be close to persuading McDonald’s to adopt a $15 minimum wage, even the campaign’s critics acknowledge it has achieved some of its goals by prompting a national debate about low-wage work and nudging various cities and states to raise their minimum wage.
“They have contributed to the wins in the ballot initiative in different states and localities,” said Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative research center. “We saw the ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage passed even in Arkansas, and we see cities such as Seattle having a $15 minimum wage. So they’re succeeding in that way.”