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In eight years, what became the Fight for $15 movement has grown into an international organization that has successfully fought for a rise in minimum wage in states across the US, redefined the political agenda in the US, and acted as a springboard for other movements, including Black Lives Matter. It now stands perilously close to winning one of the biggest worker-led rights victories in decades.
This Tuesday, fast-food workers will walk out again, hoping to push through a change that will affect tens of millions of American workers.
For Alvin Major it all began in a hall in Brooklyn, where union and community activists had convened a meeting of fast-food workers to see what pressure they could bring on an industry notorious for its low wages and poor conditions, and a state that had shown those workers little interest.
With a platform to speak, the workers talked about “how you had to be on food stamps, get rent assistance, all these kinds of things, and we’re working for these companies that are making billions”, said Major.
At one point, a worker showed the burns on his arm he had suffered at work. In a show of solidarity, workers across the room others rolled up their sleeves to show their scars too. Even when injured on the job, workers said, they were too scared to take time off.
This was not how Major imagined America to be when he moved to the US from Guyana in 2000. “In our family, with 14 kids, my dad’s wife never worked a day. My dad used to work, he took care of us, we had a roof over our head, we went to school, we had meals every day, he had his own transportation.”
In America, “the greatest, most powerful and richest country in the history of the world”, he found “[that] you have to work, your wife has to work, when your kids reach an age they have to work – and still you could barely make it”.
Industry lobbying allied to Republican and – until relatively recently – Democratic opposition has locked the US’s minimum wage at $7.25 since the last raise in 2009. Now a raise to $15 looks set to be included in Joe Biden’s $1.9tn Covid relief package – although it will still face fierce opposition.
Read more of Dominic Rushe’s report here: ‘Hopefully it makes history’: Fight for $15 closes in on mighty win for US workers
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Donald Trump impeachment: Senate trial expected to vote to acquit today – live updates | US news