Fast-food and other low-wage workers announced on Thursday that they will stage the biggest nationwide strikes yet on November 10. They will also make their political force known by cumulating outside city halls in towns and cities across the country. The demonstrations are planned to take place one year from 2016 election day.
Following walkouts next Tuesday, workers plan to let politicians know that as a voting bloc, they represent a potentially potent political group—nearly 64 million Americans are paid less than $15 per hour, according to the Fight for $15 organization. Workers plan to call for higher wages, and for companies like McDonald's to recognize their right to unionize in places like Los Angeles, where legislation securing a $15 minimum wage has already passed.
"Workers need a raise now," said one Kansas City, Mo. McDonald's worker, Latifah Trezvant, who is paid $8.65 per hour and will vote for the first time next November. "McDonald's and other large corporations need to step up and pay more. Politicians need to use their power. We cant' wait. We've got one message for anyone running for office in 2016, whether it's for dogcatcher or president: Come get our vote."
"Stand up for $15 an hour and the right to a union, and we'll stand behind you," Trezvant said in a statement.
Fast-food workers, who will be joined by home care and child care workers, farm workers, and a slew of other low-wage laborers, will strike in about 270 cities, according to the group, the highest number since its inception three years ago. In Milwaukee, demonstrations will end in a protest at the Republican presidential debate—an indication that workers want wage and union issues at the fore in next year's election, no matter the party.
Why the Fight for 15 Dollars an Hour Affects All of Us
The President of the one of the biggest labor unions in the country responds to our Facebook comments about the Fight for 15.(With Mary Kay Henry of the SEIU)Posted by ATTN: on Wednesday, April 15, 2015
"We're putting politicians on notice that we're going to hold them accountable," Kendall Fells, organizing director of Fight for $15, told USA Today.
Wage and labor issues could be a meaningful driver for a substantial number of voters. According to a recent National Employment Law Project (NELP) survey, nearly 70 percent of unregistered voters would register to vote if a candidate supported a $15 wage and a union. Counting registered voters who would be more likely to vote in a race with such a candidate, and underpaid workers overall, a candidate could potentially bring in 48 million voters just on the issue of higher pay and union rights. Major political candidates, mainly Democrats at this point, have so far voiced support for the $15/hour movement.
"The Fight for $15 has shown it can influence the politics around wages and the economy," Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, said. "This movement is creating a new voting bloc that frankly has too often been ignored by the political process."