Major Showdown For $15 Wage Against Big Corporations In Atlanta

The South has long been one of the most hostile places for labor organizing. From using prison labor to break labor unions – which in Georgia was done almost entirely to African Americans, as a form of an extension of slavery-by-another-name – to intense hostility to even the concept of the minimum wage itself – Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has called for abolishing it – Southern elites have long suppressed the rights and wages of workers.

But big changes are afoot, as activists across the region have been successful in recruiting thousands of people from all walks of life to join a movement for economic and social justice that sprawls several states.

On Wednesday, this movement took the form of the Fight For 15 Movement.

Continue reading

Protests For $15 Minimum Wage Are Heating Up

The Fight for $15 campaign to win higher pay and a union for fast-food workers is expanding to represent a variety of low-wage workers and become more of a social justice movement.

In New York City on Wednesday, more than 100 chanting protesters gathered outside a McDonald’s around noon, prompting the store to lock its doors to prevent the crowd from streaming in.

Demonstrators laid on the sidewalk outside to stage a “die-in,” which became popular during the “Black Lives Matter” protests after recent police shootings of black men. Several wore sweatshirts that said “I Can’t Breathe,” a nod to the last words of a black man in New York City who died after he was put in a police chokehold.

Continue reading

Small Percentage Of McDonald’s Workers Get Pay Raise

McDonald’s plans to raise the average pay of about 90,000 of the 750,000 McDonald’s US workers to around $10 an hour, but the increase will not benefit workers at the vast majority of the restaurants, because they are operated by franchisees, who make their own wage decisions. The pay increase, for workers at roughly 1,500 company-owned U.S. restaurants, will take effect on July 1. Starting wages at the restaurants will move to $1 above the locally mandated minimum wage. Workers groups said the move by McDonald’s, which is also adding benefits such as paid vacations, fell short of their goals. The raise is only at “company-owned restaurants,” only about 10% of its 14,350 stores nationwide. The rest are owned by franchisees, who “operate their individual businesses and make their own decisions on pay and benefits for their employees.” The National Labor Relations Board general counsel ruled differently on Dec. 19 that the Oak Brook, Ill., company “engages in sufficient control over its franchisees’ operations…to make it a putative joint employer with its franchisees, sharing liability for violations of our Act.”

Continue reading

‘Seattle Is Getting A Raise’ Victory March

Seattle, WA – More than 150 people gathered in front of Seattle Central College on Saturday, March 28 to celebrate an historic victory. On April 1, the minimum wage for Seattle workers is going up to either $10 r $11 per hour (depending on health benefits and tips), and by 2025 the minimum wage will be $15.

Raising the minimum wage required a tremendous amount of organizing efforts and walkouts by workers at fast food residents. It is a feat that deserves celebrating, but passing the law was just the beginning. To make it effective, workers need to know their rights and employers have to follow the new law.

So in addition to celebrating, the group marched through central Seattle and stopped at a number of restaurants along the way like Subway, Chipotle, Starbucks and IHOP.

Continue reading

Walmart Stop Retaliating Rehire Ismael Nunez

On January 26th, I was terminated by Kelly Cooper, the manager for Walmart store #1772 in Klamath Falls, Oregon, in what I believe was retaliation for my efforts to speak out for a better workplace.

I worked at Walmart for 11 years and didn’t have problems until I started getting involved along with other employees across the country in campaigns for better wages, better benefits and other improvements at Walmart. Since then, I have participated in some rallies and events and I joined a nationwide strike at the end of last year.

The management at my store knew I’ve been a part of these efforts and have discouraged my coworkers from getting involved.

Recently, things got worse. . .

Continue reading

Newsletter: What Would Zinn Do?

This week marks the fifth anniversary of the death of Howard Zinn who is best known for his “People’s History of the United States” which looks at history from the bottom up, through the lenses of classism, racism and sexism. We remember Zinn for the advice he gave activists a year before his death. When he was asked what should people be doing, he gave advice that is good no matter what the era:

Go where you are not supposed to go;
Say what you are not supposed to say; and
Stay when they tell you to leave.
We are pleased to see people around the world instinctively following the advice that Howard Zinn gave to US activists. The world over we are facing governments corrupted by money and not representing the people. Zinn’s recipe for change – Go, Say and Stay – one we should be consciously following.

Continue reading

Uniting Fight For $15 With Ferguson Fury

Across the country, the youthful protests against police racism openly expressed their solidarity with the fight for $15. The widespread mood to #ShutItDown, most reflected in highway takeovers, found even sharper expression in marches through Wal-Marts and shopping malls, where chants and speeches often made the connections between economic inequality and police racism.

There is widespread understanding that racism is structurally embedded into the economy and political life of American capitalism. For a movement against racist police violence to be sustainable, demands for community control over police must be combined with economic demands that address mass unemployment, low-wages, and underfunded services in communities of color. Demands for living wage jobs and quality public services can also unite wider numbers of workers in the struggle for racial equity.

Continue reading

Fast Food Workers Plan Nationwide Strike For Dec. 4

Fast food workers in at least 150 cities nationwide will walk off the job on Dec. 4, demanding an industry-wide base wage of $15 per hour and the right to form a union. Workers unanimously voted on the date for the new strike during a Nov. 25 conference call, held shortly before the second anniversary of the movement’s first strike.

The first of the recent fast food strikes took place on Nov. 29, 2012, in New York City. Two hundred workers from various fast food restaurants around the city participated in that strike, making it the largest work stoppage to ever hit the fast food industry. Since then, the size of the movement has ballooned several times over: With the backing of the powerful service sector labor union SEIU, the campaign has come to include thousands of workers in the U.S. The National Worker Organizing committee, a nationwide steering group of 26 fast food workers around the country, approved the Dec. 4 strike date before it was proposed to the rest of the workers. Workers from all 150 cities involved in the campaign were then invited to vote on the date over a Nov. 25 conference call.

The proposal for a strike date was put forth by Burger King and Pizza Hut employee Terrence Wise, a leader in the Kansas City, Missouri branch of the committee.

Continue reading

Nearly 500 Striking Fast Food Workers Arrested, Fight For 15 Intensifies

Fast-food workers—in uniforms from restaurants like McDonald’s, Burger King and Wendy’s—were arrested Thursday during a 150-city strike, as the fight for $15 and union rights intensified across the country. Thousands of cooks and cashiers walked off their jobs from more than 1,000 stores, chanting “We Believe That We Will Win,” and vowing to do whatever it takes to secure higher wages and union rights.

Workers in New York City, who launched the Fight for $15 nearly two years ago, were among the first to get arrested, after blocking traffic in front of a McDonald’s in Times Square early Thursday morning. Workers were also arrested Thursday morning in Detroit and Chicago. All over the country, from Las Vegas to Little Rock, workers walked off their jobs and took arrest to show that they can’t wait any longer for companies like McDonald’s to raise their pay.

Continue reading