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East Bay | Labor & Workers

May Day: The Fight for $15 Comes to Oakland
by JP Massar
Tuesday Apr 30th, 2013 12:27 PM
On May Day, the fight for a $15 'Livable Wage' is coming to Oakland.
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New York City led the way with two walkouts by low wage workers in the fast-food industry, the first in November, 2012, and the second on Aprith 4th, 2013, the 45th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King.

In November, about 200 New York fast-food workers at 30 stores went on strike for a $15 hourly wage...

((Weeks ago)) about 400 workers walked out. "And we believe they'll be even more emboldened after this one," said ((Communities for Change director)) Westin. "The more they continue to show that they have power in their stores, the more they'll continue to be involved."

Next up was Chicago on April 24th, 2013.
Hundreds of fast food and retail employees in Chicago began a mass walkout Wednesday morning, calling for the city’s minimum wage to be raised to $15 an hour...

...the protest, organized by the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago (WOCC), included employees from national store chains ranging from McDonald’s to Sears to Victoria’s Secret, most of whom currently make $8.25 an hour, a wage that WOCC members said forces workers to use social service programs like RentAid to make ends meet.

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Now it's Oakland's turn. Organized by the Livable Wage Assembly, an outgrowth of Occupy Oakland's Labor Solidarity Committee (the group which organized the December 12th, 2011 shutdown of the Port of Oakland), their first volley is to be a rally at Oscar Grant Plaza and noise demonstration through the streets of Oakland at 5:00 PM on May 1st, 2013 to raise awareness.

Organizers hope to enable the struggle of low-wage workers to challenge their bosses for a livable wage...

The noise demo will focus on companies like McDonalds, Walgreens, Rite-Aid, Taco Bell and a host of other chains in the downtown area.

The City of Oakland's minimum wage is $8.00/hr, the same as California's, while other Bay Area cities, notably, San Jose and San Francisco, have significantly higher minimums ($10/hr or more). Oakland is willing to demand that businesses which have contracts with the Port and City of Oakland pay a 'living wage' of $13.45 an hour (nonwithstanding this edict being violated flagrantly by some contractors, especially at the Oakland Airport, administered by the Port of Oakland) but no effort has been made by Oakland's elite to raise the minimum for the rest of Oakland's low wage workers.

No one can live on $8/hr in Oakland. Oakland is experiencing a rapid increase in real estate prices and rental costs, and paying for housing alone will consume almost all of that wage. Forget about food, transport, utiities, and the possibility that you might get sick.

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The minimum wage in Australia is (with some significant exceptions) $16.46/hr (that's at current conversion rates. It's $15.96 Australian dollars/hr). That includes a health care system available to everyone, payed for almost completely by tax revenues. Their economy is doing just fine; better than ours.

There is no sane reason (greed is neither sane nor rational) the United States could not pay a livable wage to every worker. The Fight For $15 is a first step in making that happen.

Here comes Oakland. Look out world.


Fight for 15 Chicago.

Fight for 15 twitter.

Fight for 15 Oakland twitter.

Join the May Day Fight in Oakland.

Photo Source: NYC - Chicago - Oakland Photo (photographer not named)