Why we support the Fight for $15 movement
By Rebecca Disbrow, TU Meridian, ID
Last weekend, I had the amazing opportunity to attend the first ever national Fight for $15 convention in Richmond together with fellow CWA members from the airline company American Eagle/Envoy.
The convention was held in Richmond, VA and we were impressed to join with several thousands of low wage workers. The choice of the location was deliberate, since the focus of the convention was to make connections between economic and racial justice and Richmond was the former capital of the Confederacy.
The energy at the convention center was great! The whole program was led by fast food workers from across the country, who talked about their struggle in the past 4 years since the movement started and all the victories they were able to achieve, like impressive minimum wage increases in several places for over 20 million workers – and the work that lies ahead.
On Saturday, I was part of a section in which workers from various industries were talking about why they are fighting for $15 and a union: nursing assistants, teachers, cafeteria workers, manufacturing workers, home care assistants – and T-Mobile workers. This showed that fast food workers led the way and started this movement, but that the Fight for $15 and a union is a lot bigger now. I was very nervous to speak in front of 3,000 people – but as they cheered me on, I gained confidence.
Afterwards, the whole convention passed a resolution, pledging to support legislative action to raise the minimum wage, especially in the South and to challenge corporate greed and political forces that don’t work in the interest of working families. It was also decided to hold a national day of action on Sept 12 and protest all presidentail and vice presidential debates. You can read the resolution here.
Braving the 100 F heatwave, we all went on a powerful march on Saturday afternoon with thousands of low wage workers and members of the community. We learned a lot of new chants, such as: “We work! We sweat! Put $15 on our check!” or “Eyes on $16, we want $15!”. The amazing Reverend Barber gave a rousing speech calling the Fight for 15 movement the civil rights movement of today and called on all of us to fight for voting rights, criminal justice reform and healthcare reform, especially in the South.
The conference was an amazing experience and we are so happy that we could be there and meet great leaders, learn more about the movement and get a better understanding about our role in the fight for economic and racial justice.
There are way too many T-Mobile workers who make under $15 an hour – at a company that is continuously reporting record profits and where the CEO makes $25 million dollar a year – more than 500 times what an average T-Mobile worker makes. That’s why we not only support the Fight for $15 movement – we are part of the movement. $15 and a union – let’s do this!