Workers from across the country convened in Richmond, VA over the weekend to make a powerful statement to Fight for $15 and a union.
Adjunct faculty and graduate students, janitors, security guards, child care providers and other service workers from more than a dozen industries joined together in the former Confederate capital and marched to a statue of Gen. Robert E. Lee to connect today’s movement to the consequences of slavery and segregation.
Nearly 300 child care workers-with a large contingent from California-joined underpaid workers from nearly a dozen industries to highlight the crisis of today’s falling wage floor and the effects of racist policies that have held back working people of color.
“In today’s economy, it is unbelievable to try to live on $8.50 an hour. There’s no way you can fill your refrigerator, pay your electricity, pay your rent,” said Dawn O’Neal, a child care worker who participated in the action.
“Underpaid workers need real change from our leaders in office, and this election season we’ve already made huge strides in pushing the candidates to turn their focus to our issues – and that means at least $15/hour and union rights,” said LiAnne Flakes, a Head Start Teacher from Tampa, Florida who is paid $12.50/hour. “Whether you educate young children, care for seniors, or work in fast-food or any other industry for that matter, all parents deserve to be able to afford basic necessities and care for their families.”
The Rev. William Barber II of the Moral Mondays movement in North Carolina, who delivered a keynote speech after workers marched for an hour in 97-degree heat, framed the action in even broader terms.
“It took us 400 years from slavery to the present to reach $7.25, but that was far too long, and we can’t wait,” he said. “We have to stand together and fight together now for $15 and union rights.”
- Read more from The Guardian and Politico.
- Terrence Wise, a dad from Kansas City, Mo., who works at Burger King and McDonald’s, told NPR’s All Things Considered about his family and why he got involved in the Fight for $15.
- SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry appeared on cable news to talk about how raising wages lifts the economy for everyone.
- Child care provider Dawn O’Neal appeared on WTVR-TV and WRIC-TV in Richmond.