This weekend, August 12-13, 2016, thousands of low-wage workers will converge in Richmond, Virginia for the first ever Fight for 15 Convention. Choosing Richmond was a deliberate statement. As the former capitol of the Confederacy, Richmond represents the deep seeded racial injustice in our country’s history and convening there highlights the connections between economic justice, racial justice and immigration justice. The weekend will end with a march on the monuments to the Confederacy.
According to the National Employment Law Project, more than half of black workers and three in five Latinos earn less than $15 an hour.
David Wildbourne, of the library staff at East Carolina University, said it best:
“Decades of attacks on working people who organized unions mean that jobs that traditionally provided a path to economic security for some families now no longer do. America’s legacies of racism and corporate greed have always been intertwined, and because of those forces we’re all in the same boat now.”
And it’s not just corporations that are paying below poverty level wages. The US government is the leading low-wage job creator, funding more poverty jobs than McDonald’s and Wal-Mart combined through contractors. Sixty percent of federal contract workers are women and eighty-eight percent are women of color working contracted jobs in areas like food service, janitorial work, or landscaping.
These workers - which make up 21 million Americans - are fighting for a Model Employer Executive Order, which would direct federal taxpayer dollars to companies that pay workers living wages and allow them to form unions. This summer, thanks to the hard fought efforts of Bernie Sanders, the call for this Executive Order was added to the Democratic Party platform.
The term “intersectionality” has finally made it’s way into the broad progressive consciousness and the fight for living wages is just another example of why it’s so important. When we recognize that humans do not exist in silos and we join forces for common goals, we are stronger and we will win.
Make fighting for a living wage part of your theory of change. Start getting involved by visiting Fightfor15.org and GoodJobsNation.org to find chapters, rallies and volunteer opportunities near you. Or get involved with organizations like The Next System Project, Jobs With Justice and the National Employment Law Project.
Leading up to the election, we want to give you the resources, knowledge and inspiration to get involved and stay involved beyond November. Because no matter who wins the Presidency, as progressives, we always need to be prepared to fight for what is right…That’s what keeps bending that arc of the moral universe toward justice.
So, if making sure those with a job can live above the poverty line is important to you, then be sure to hit the share buttons to spread the word about joining the fight for a living wage via social media so that others in your network can get involved too.
Sign up with Good Jobs Nation and co-sign the call for the Model Employer Executive Order
Read "Fighting for a Living Wage" by Stephanie Luce
Minimum Wage Crusaders Are Holding A Convention To Talk About Racism (Washington Post)
Fight for 15 to Hold First Ever Nationwide Convention (Fight for 15)