The Fight for $15 kicked off in November 2012, with a relatively small—yet also historically large—group of New York City fast food workers making what seemed an audacious demand: $15 an hour minimum pay and a union. The latter goal hasn’t advanced much since then, but $15? That has become solidly mainstream, and has brought big wins. A new report from the National Employment Law Project quantifies just how big.
The federal minimum wage remains just $7.25 an hour, the same as it was not just in 2012 but in 2009. But between state and local minimum wage increases, and executive action raising the minimum wage for federal contract workers, NELP estimates that 26 million workers have gotten a raise. Nearly 12 million of those workers are Black, Latino, or Asian American. The added pay they’ve gotten amounts to $150 billion, with $76 billion going to Black, Latino, and Asian American workers.
- How Oakland teachers took control of our return to school, Shelby Ziesing and John Green write. They insisted on the union doing walkthroughs of every school in the district, prioritizing the neighborhoods hardest hit by COVID-19. They ensured that every classroom would have four exchanges of air every hour. They made sure that safety agreements would be followed.
- Newly unionized workers at The New Yorker are celebrating.
“With COVID cases continuing to surge, essential workers have been forced to play vaccination police because of the confusing patchwork of state and local mask policies. Urgent action is needed from states and retailers to strengthen COVID safety enforcement so the burden doesn’t fall on the shoulders or essential workers already stretched thin.
“As America’s largest union for essential retail and grocery workers, UFCW is calling on the CDC as well as elected and business leaders to do much more to strengthen COVID safety measures and remove the barriers to vaccine access leaving so many essential workers unprotected as we confront this new surge. American lives are on the line and failure to act is not an option.”
- Annie Lowrey’s important story, “The Time Tax,” is relevant to many areas of life, but we should broadly think about a lot of it as making workers' lives more difficult, which means people have less energy to fight for changes that will improve their lives.