Just three and a half years after 200 New York fast-food workers walked off their jobs for $15, our movement is now truly global.
Here are just a few moments, big and small, from an amazing day:
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center hospital employees in Pittsburgh joined the strike and Christian ministers marched into the hospital cafeteria to leaflet in support of the union. James Threatt, a UPMC Patient Care Technician, fired up a rally crowd with his declaration that UPMC staff are worth more than the free pretzel the massive hospital system gives them on "employee appreciation day."
Groups of Bangladeshi women who work in garment factories – where 1,130 workers were killed in the building collapse of 2013 – rallied and posted photos online to say no more McJobs.
Home care workers and dozens of their clients held a spontaneous roundtable conversation with seniors at the Orange Mound Senior Center in Memphis. Niketa Fisher, a home care client and Fight for $15 leader, came with her home care worker, Elizabeth Anderson. Niketa brought the room to tears with her story and one of the clients spoke out: "If you're taking care of others for a living, you ought to be making a living wage!"
Hundreds of fast-food workers and union members occupied the gigantic McDonald's at Disneyland Paris, the most profitable store in Europe. Students and workers occupied more McDonald's in Brittany, Grenoble, Lyon and Paris, chanting "pay us our tax money." (It's estimated that McDonald's has evaded 700 million Euros in French taxes by routing profits through Luxembourg.)
Lara Driscoll, an adjunct music professor at Loyola University and Harold Washington College, came to the march in Chicago to support the call to raise compensation for all faculty. She was surprised to run into Tremayne McKnight, one of her former students. Tremayne couldn't afford to stay in school and now he works at McDonald's. Together they marched for jobs that pay people enough to actually live on.
Ashona Osborne first became a leader of this movement when she worked at a Wendy's in Pittsburgh. She later decided to shift into a new job as a child care worker. Sadly, she found that the wages still don't pay her bills as she's doing that work, so she was out in the streets all day as a new leader of the child care worker movement.
At fightfor15.org there are over one hundred amazing images of working people standing up together across the world. You'll see church choirs singing their support for $15 for home care workers. Greek union members riding their Vespas and motorcycles in solidarity. Crowds standing in moments of silence for Jeffrey Pendleton. A sea of marchers stretching across downtown LA. Demonstrators in Brazil dressed up like scary Ronald McDonalds and called for McDonald's to stop the global race to the bottom. But mostly you will see thousands of people at hundreds of actions united with one message: McJobs Cost Us All. In more than 300 cities, 40 countries, with thousands of people.
Some people thought that the $15 minimum wage breakthroughs in California and New York would slow down the urgency and hold down turnout there. Instead, momentum picked up. Fast food cooks and cashiers in Los Angeles and New York organized their biggest strikes to date.
Once again, we saw how important people respond when we organize at this scale. Politicians at every level – local, state, and federal – supported the actions. Governor Cuomo spoke at the afternoon rally in New York. Both Democratic presidential candidates issued statements and spoke out on social media in favor of the Fight for $15 movement. In Britain, Shadow Prime Minister and leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn announced today that he wants to lead a push to spread the movement to boost pay for fast-food work "across the continent" of Europe.
And at tonight's debate, Hillary Clinton reiterated: "I have supported the #FightFor15... I was proud to stand on the stage with Governor Andrew Cuomo, with SEIU." And when asked if she'd sign a $15 minimum wage bill she said "of course."
With the breakthroughs in California and New York, more than 17 million working Americans have won wage increases since the Fight for $15 started up.
Together we're on our way to building a movement strong enough to empower the 64 million Americans who are now paid less than $15 to lift themselves out of poverty and into a union.