November 23, 2016

The high cost of low wages: 'Fight for 15' protests planned for Nov. 29

Author: Liza Frenette
Source: NYSUT Communications
Fight for $15
Caption: Photo via FightFor15.org

For many people, having a good job is high on the list of things for which to be grateful. For many others, such as fast food workers, childcare workers, home health care workers and airport workers, there is still a struggle to earn a fair wage. Their frustration will manifest in Fight for $15 mass protests across the nation on Tuesday Nov. 29. It is the fourth anniversary of the movement and promises to be heightened this year because of fears over workers’ rights all resulting from the recent presidential election.

Fight for $15“All people who don’t make a living wage and don’t have power in their workplace are struggling,” said Rev. Emily McNeill of the New York State Labor-Religion Coalition. “Paying a living wage, enough for a person to be self-sufficient, is the minimum requirement for justice.”

The Nov. 29 protests follow one of the biggest shopping days of the year, the day after Thanksgiving, when consumers are tagged in a frenzy of shopping deals that reap big profits for companies.

It is a stark example of the imbalance between workers and owners.

“Low wages in the economy are also unjust because of the level of inequality between the top earners in a company and everyone else. Workers produce a company’s profits and should share in those profits,” said McNeill, who is helping to organize the Albany rally at McDonald’s on Pearl Street.

Raising workers’ pay provides immediate stimulation to the economy since the money earned is rapidly spent on needed goods and services, McNeill said.

The Fight for 15 movement began in 2012 in the heart of New York City, and has now spread to 340 cites, according to fightfor15.org. Also visit www.facebook.com/Fightfor15.

While poor wages have immediate repercussions affecting food and housing, there are long-term affects such as health care and education.

“Access to quality education is a critical justice issue, along with higher wages, union rights, racial justice and immigrant rights,” McNeill said. “All of these are necessary for all people in our community to thrive.”

Immigrant rights, which have become even more contentious since the election, will be some of the concerns people are gathering to share.

 “The movement recognizes that a lot of low-wage workers are also immigrants - both documented and undocumented. Higher wages without other rights and protections will still leave them vulnerable,” McNeill said.

Visit www.mainstreetalliance.org for further information about workers rights.