Low-Wage Workers Organize Largest Nationwide Protest to Push for $15 Minimum Wage

Posted April 22, 2015

MP3 Interview with Sarah Jaffe, journalist & fellow at The Nation Institute, conducted by Scott Harris


In more than 220 cities across the U.S., some 60,000 low-wage workers and their supporters joined marches and protests on April 1 to demand a $15 minimum hourly wage. The action, where many workers walked off their jobs, is said to be the largest protest by low-wage workers in U.S. history. Employees from fast food restaurants and retail stores, well as home healthcare aides and childcare workers participated in the day of action, which was primarily organized by the Service Employees International Union, or SEIU.

While the effort to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $10.10 has been blocked in Congress by Republican legislators, 14 states and the District of Columbia have increased their minimum wage since 2014, either through legislation or ballot measures. Low-wage worker protests, which first emerged in New York City in November 2012, have been credited with inspiring a wave of public support for minimum wage increases. After a successful grassroots campaign, the city of Seattle become the first municipality in the nation to raise its minimum wage to $15. Similar efforts are now underway in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Chicago.

Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Sarah Jaffe, a labor journalist and Fellow at The Nation Institute who examines the significance of the April 15 low-wage worker protest and the potential for this mobilization to transform into a larger progressive working class movement that could revive the fortunes of organized labor.

For more information on The Nation Institute, visit nationinstitute.org.

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