Our VoiceHealth & Environment

Raise wages for workers on May 15!

Jill Garvey • May 15, 2014

Fast food workers are putting it all on the line today to fight for fair wages. Workers in 150 cities in the U.S. and across the world will participate in a one-day strike for a $15 hourly wage and the right to unionize. This is anticipated to be the biggest fast food strike ever.

The fight for a $15-an-hour living wage in Chicago is in full swing. Workers across the country, from Seattle to Chicago to New York, have been organizing intensely since 2012 to raise wages for fast food and retail workers.

And voters are behind them. In March, during primary and statewide elections, 87 percent of Chicagoans voted in favor of a $15-an-hour wage referendum. This sends a clear message to lawmakers and CEOs: We want workers to be paid and treated fairly.

Earlana Delaney, a McDonald’s Worker in Chicago who is featured on fightfor15.org said, “I need more hours because I have a daughter to raise, bills to pay and am striving to achieve a somewhat financially stable life.”

Nicholas Williams, a McDonalds employee in Indianapolis said, “I buried my daughter and didn’t make enough to pay for her funeral. I knew I had to fight for more.”

It’s no wonder workers like Earlana and Nicholas are feeling financially unstable.

According to report by the UC Berkeley Labor Center: “Median pay for core front-line fast-food jobs is $8.69 an hour, with many jobs paying at or near the minimum wage. Benefits are also scarce for front-line fast-food workers; an estimated 87 percent do not receive health benefits through their employer.”

Raising wages is the right thing to do for families who are working hard but still not able to make ends meet. But the benefits don’t stop there.

Raising the living wage to $15-an-hour, paving the way for workers to unionize, cutting down on wage theft all contribute to more stable, economically viable communities. Financially stable families who live above the poverty line make for stronger, safer neighborhoods and vibrant cities. That’s good for everyone.

Jill Garvey is the executive director at the Center for New Community.

Image source: Fight for 15

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