Thousands of workers around the United States took their demand for $15 minimum wage raise to the streets on April 14, a few days before 2016 tax day.
From nursing assistants to fast-food servers, hundreds of workers banged their drums and carried their banners when marching at Broad Street in Philadelphia, while in New York throngs of low-wage earners took over the iconic Times Square.
Workers in Boston, Massachusetts, rallied in front of the statehouse as workers in Central Florida were in Orange Blossom Trail, planning to continue their protest until the next day.
The $15 movement is definitely alive and well in America even after four years since it began. Back then, countless fast-food workers walked off their jobs and occupied the streets of Manhattan, New York, requesting for higher wages, better working conditions, and prevention of wage theft by their respective employers.
The revolution then expanded to include other low-wage workers across many industries and demand for participation or creation of unions, which various unions support.
"We in the union who have good wages have to stand with those working for low wages. If we defend the rights of all workers, we defend the rights of union workers," explained union president Jed Dodd, who joined the Philly rally.
Although the movement is gaining traction, it still receives criticisms from groups like Employment Policies Institute, which has already published ads that purportedly show the "real-world consequences" of wage hikes. Companies like Carl's Jr. have also expressed the possibility of using robot workers.
Presidential candidates also seem to be divided on their stand on $15 increase, which has already figured its way in their debates. While Bernie Sanders, a Democratic presidential candidate, has expressed support, his strong rival Secretary Hillary Clinton would agree with conditions.
At $7.25 per hour, the federal minimum wage is less than half of what the workers are currently demanding. Certain states have already increased their minimum wage based on legislation or cost of living, in which case the raise may be automatic, but only New York and California so far have passed a law that will set the minimum wage to $15 between 2018 and 2023.
The workers therefore may have to wait a while before reaping the benefits of their fight, "but the success has given me a little gas to go on. I am really thrilled to have won that fight. I have a lot of hope for the future," said Rebecca Cornick, who works at Wendy's for $10.50 an hour.
Photo: Annette Bernhardt | Flickr