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From Fast Food to College Campuses, Workers "Fight for 15"

Janitors and other members of 32BJ SEIU in Connecticut will take part in "Fight for 15" actions on Wednesday in Danbury, Hartford, New London and Stamford. Courtesy: 32BJ SEIU.
Janitors and other members of 32BJ SEIU in Connecticut will take part in "Fight for 15" actions on Wednesday in Danbury, Hartford, New London and Stamford. Courtesy: 32BJ SEIU.
April 14, 2015

STAMFORD, Conn. - It's being called the Fight for 15, and in actions across Connecticut and the nation, low-wage workers are joining in a global effort to call attention to income inequality.

Juan Hernandez, state director of 32BJ SEIU, says it takes about $26 an hour for a couple to keep up with the cost of living in Stamford. He says simple math makes it clear there's no way janitors and other low-wage service workers in Stamford can afford to live where they work, making just over $9 an hour.

"The workers that work in McDonald's, they probably come from Bridgeport or someplace else," says Hernandez. "They are probably working three or four different jobs so they can make ends meet. That's not the American dream."

There will be several Fight for 15 rallies in Connecticut on Wednesday, including one in Stamford in front of the Ferguson Library at 4 p.m. Worker actions are planned for 250 American cities, and on six continents worldwide.

Hernandez says thousands of workers, from janitors to educators, will also take part in actions locally in Danbury, Hartford and New London.

"Many other workers, even including professors at the community college, are making below $15 an hour," he says. "And they've earned a college degree."

Hernandez says the worldwide effort makes the point that paying CEOs hundreds of times more per hour than their workers isn't the only way to success.

"In Australia, workers make $19 an hour working for McDonald's, have health insurance, a pension, and the burgers cost less than in the United States," he says. "That tells you something. There is plenty of money on the other side to be spread around."

Hernandez adds that workers are expected to strike to press for higher wages at local businesses that include Burger King, Dunkin Donuts and McDonald's. A spokesperson for McDonald's says the company's recent wage increase is an important first step that will make a difference for many workers.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - CT