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April 15, also known as Tax Day, is marked in history with new significance as the Fight For $15 successfully organized protests across the country and around the globe. The tax day strikes, marches and rallies included walkouts by fast-food workers in 236 U.S. cities, spanned industries from home care to academia, stretched from Tokyo to Sao Paolo- demonstrating the two-and-a-half-year-old Fight For $15 is stronger than ever.
In San Jose, California, where the cost of living is among the highest in the country, hundreds of fast-food workers, care workers, government employees, students, and supporters converged onto McDonald’s on Story Road demanding $15 per hour for not only fast food workers and their families, but for all low-wage workers. Speaking before the crowd:
“In Silicon Valley, the cost of living is so high, it’s a struggle to survive. Fight for $15 is about lifting the wage floor and building a better future for everyone.We won’t stop until every hard working person is able to make enough to pay the bills and get the respect everyone deserves on the job.”
— Elba Arciniega, SEIU 521 member and Patient Business Services Clerk at Valley Medical Center
Watch Elba speaking to the crowd here.
Community leaders also vocalized their support for the the campaign. Speakers included: Ash Karla, San Jose City Councilman; Dereka Mehrens, Executive Director of Working Partnerships, USA; Ben Field, Executive Officer of the South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council; and Rev. Jethroe Moore, President of the San Jose and Silicon Valley Chapter of the NAACP, who called for a boycott of McDonald’s until it pays employees $15 per hour.
“As a recent retiree, I owe a huge debt of gratitude to all the activists in the labor movement over the last century who made retirement security a reality for me. The functioning of our economy depends on the essential jobs performed by many workers who currently receive sub-standard wages and benefits. Low-wage workers deserve much better. I’ll do what I can to change this.”
– Jeffrey Smedberg, Santa Cruz County Retiree
Read the press release: On Tax Day, San Jose Workers Join Largest-Ever Mobilization of Underpaid
In Fresno, California, hundreds of students, community members and local home care, child care, state, county and farm workers staged a protest at a McDonald’s across the street from Manchester Mall. Led in prayer by Reverend B.T. Lewis, demonstrators peacefully chanted outside of McDonald’s, calling for better wages for the most severely underpaid.
“I’ve worked in home care for a long time. I love my job, but I’m barely getting by. I can’t really plan for retirement because wages just aren’t sustainable. That’s why I’m here today standing with my fellow home care workers and the Fresno community. We work hard to care for other people, but can’t even take care of our own. It’s time to lift the wage floor and fight for a better future for everyone.”
— Vicky Vang, Fresno home care worker
Read the press release: On Tax Day, Fresno Workers Join Largest-Ever Mobilization of Underpaid
The Day concluded in Berkeley, California, where thousands of protesters stretched across avenues to demonstrate support in the Fight For $15 by marching from UC Berkeley to Berkeley City Hall chanting together, “We believe that we will win!”
We need change now. The future of our country and our families depends on it. Join the Fight for $15 movement and receive regular updates: 521.seiu.org/ff15
CBS, Eyewitness News (Video clip, MP4)
ABC 30, Action News (Video clip, MP4)
NBC News Bay Area at 5 (Video clip, MP4)
ABC 7 News (Video clip, MP4)
CBS, KPIX 5 News Early Edition (Video clip, MP4)
“Workers Rally for $15 Wage at Fast Food Restaurants in San Jose,” Silicon Valley Debug
Univision (Video clip in Spanish, MP4)