August 5, 2015
By Neal Tepel
One week after New York’s fast-food workers won an historic victory for $15/hour, attention has turned to raising wages for other underpaid workers in New York and nationwide. The fight has turned to those working in the homecare and childcare industries. The U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi has called for a $15 an hour federal minimum wage. “I’m for $15 per hour,” she said. The Hill said that $15 is, “a benchmark that’s quickly catching on with the Democratic party’s liberal base.”
In the Guardian, Steven Greenhouse quotes Clark University Professor Gary Chaison, who says that the Fight for $15 is, “a trend that cannot be stopped.” Professor Chiason predicts that, “within five or 10 years almost every state in the country – maybe not Mississippi or Alabama – will have a $15 minimum wage.” Greenhouse writes that, “the Fight for 15 has mushroomed from a modest, one-day walkout by 200 workers in one city to one of the largest US labor protests in decades.” In a CNN op-ed headlined “$15 minimum wage: A Domino Effect?,” Paul Sonn at the National Employment Law Project reviews the economic evidence on why New York’s $15 fast-food wage is, “likely to spur employers across the state to begin to raise pay as well — creating momentum for further major wage increases both in the state and across the country.” And the Associated Press profiles a Seattle restaurant that decided to institute the city’s $15 minimum wage two years ahead of schedule and is finding, “surprising success.” One waitress is saving for accounting classes and finding it easier to take weekend vacations, while another server is using the added pay to cover increased rent, AP reports. “"To the extent that we can look at macro patterns, we're not seeing a problem," said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray on the city’s increase thus far to an $11 minimum wage.
Cities, states, and businesses nationwide continues to push for $15 an hour. State Senator Dwight Bullard introduced legislation this week to raise Florida’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. Praising the victory won by fast-food workers in New York last week, lawmakers in Connecticut voted to establish a Low Wage Worker Advisory Panel tasked with evaluating the need for a higher minimum wage in low-paying sectors including fast-food, retail, and home care. Also inspired by fast-food workers’ victory in New York, underpaid workers in America’s fastest-growing industry – home care – sharpened their calls for $15/hour and a union in states across the country. At a Capitol Hill press conference Tuesday July 28th – child care providers, parents with their children, members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus and other Members of Congress called for a bold plan to fix America’s broken child care system that is leaving families unable to afford care and providers unable to support their families. Announcing the kick-off of a multi-city tour to push for good jobs for child care workers in the U.S., Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) said at this July 28th press conference, “No one who is caring for and educating our children should have to live in poverty, and no one should be pushed into poverty because of the cost of child care for their kids.”