It can be easy to forget that real people lie at the center of every movement.
From the fight for religious freedom to the ongoing struggles for racial, gender, and socioeconomic equality, these movements are carried by regular people: mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, and friends who are working every day to make their voices heard.
The Fight for $15 is no different. It’s about people fighting to survive.
Take, for instance, Adriana, a mother who has worked at McDonald’s for five years.
Adriana’s take-home pay for one two-week, full-time pay period was $508.38.
And like all of us, she has bills to pay.
She pays $100 per week in childcare for her son. Heat and water cost her $300 per month, and her rent is $500. With expenses for just those necessities already exceeding more than twice what she brought home for that two-week pay period — how is she supposed to pay for groceries? Emergency medical care? Internet so that her son can get his homework done? It’s almost impossible.
What are workers supposed to do when they’re working 40+ hours per week, doing necessary jobs, only to find that they’re unable to make ends meet?
The minimum wage in the U.S. varies state by state; as of May 2016, it ranges from $7.25 to $10.50 per hour (with D.C. set to bump up to $11.50 on July 1). While some states do have slight increases scheduled years away, the sad reality is that with cost of living on the rise, it’s still not enough to be a livable wage. So what does that mean?
There are veterans with full-time jobs who can’t afford food.
There are parents who can only feed their kids if they themselves don’t eat.
Or who give up everything so that their kids don’t have to.
The people fighting for $15 work hard. They make multibillion-dollar corporations those billions of dollars.
Now, they’re just asking to be compensated for it and for the freedom to form a union so they can get a seat at the table with the corporate CEOs who make so many decisions that affect their lives. They’re fighting for their families and better pay so they can put money back into their neighborhoods. So they can strengthen and boost their local economy.
There’s a long way to go, but the tides are turning.
New York and California have agreed to the $15 minimum wage. Thousands of workers in Pennsylvania are seeing their wages increase to $15 an hour. And the more these stories are heard, the stronger the voices of the thousands of people who are fighting for nothing more than the ability to survive can become.
If enough people stand behind them and share their stories, corporations will have no choice but to listen.