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Workers Plan National Strike for Higher Minimum Wage

Low-wage workers in a variety of occupations across the country plan to strike on Nov. 29. (The All-Nite Images/Wikimedia Commons)
Low-wage workers in a variety of occupations across the country plan to strike on Nov. 29. (The All-Nite Images/Wikimedia Commons)
November 28, 2016

HARTFORD, Conn. – Low-wage workers have announced plans to stage job actions at work sites across the country on the fourth anniversary of the Fight for Fifteen movement. At 6 A.M. on Tues., Nov. 29, fast-food workers in more than 320 cities will go out on strike.

They'll be joined by airport workers, home health aides, graduate teaching assistants and others in a day of protests, strikes and civil disobedience.

Marvette Hodge, a home-care worker from Richmond, Va., said they are a force of 64 million workers of all races, religions and genders, and they are not afraid to make their demands heard.

"Fifteen dollars an hour and a union, affordable health care and justice for immigrants and people of color," she said. "Our movement will stand with thousands of other working-class people from communities across the country to fight."

Since the "Fight for $15" movement began, New York state and California have passed laws to raise their minimum wage to $15 an hour, but the federal minimum is still just $7.25.

President-elect Donald Trump has sent different signals on the minimum wage, calling for its elimination one day and supporting a $10 minimum the next. But Kendall Fells, organizing director of Fight for 15, said voters across the country are not ambivalent.

"On Election Day, even as Donald Trump won, all five ballot initiatives to raise the minimum wage passed handily in four states and one city, showing that raising wages is always a winning issue," she explained.

Fells noted that the ballot initiatives in Arizona, Colorado, Maine and Washington all passed with broad, bipartisan support, although some business leaders say a hike in the minimum wage would affect their bottom lines and force them to lay off workers or not hire more.

Since the Fight for $15 began four years ago, 22 million Americans have won raises. But Hodge said there's still a long way to go.

"No family should be forced to live in poverty in America," she added. "The Fight for $15 gave me hope and changed the way that our country thinks about injustice and democracy. Our movement is needed now more than ever."

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - CT