Unions, activists praise minimum wage passing in several states

Stephon Johnson | 4/7/2016, midnight
It has been nothing but victories for the Fight for $15 movement, recently.
Young McDonald's workers take a stand for increased minimum wage. Bill Moore

It has been nothing but victories for the Fight for $15 movement, recently.

Last week, hospital workers in Pennsylvania won a $15-an-hour minimum wage fight, and the state legislatures of both California and New York passed $15-an-hour minimum wage laws of their own. Everyone from fast-food workers to janitors to home care workers have gotten a raise. Union leaders and activists were quick to praise the latest developments.

“When workers do well, our state thrives,” said 32BJ SEIU President Hector Figueroa in a statement. “Today’s historic announcement of the largest increase in the minimum wage in generations will open the door to economic justice for millions of families and improve our economy from the bottom up. What began as a strike demand by fast-food workers four years ago is about to become a law that will improve the lives of millions of New Yorkers.”

“This legislative agreement represents enormous progress in making the minimum wage a livable wage,” continued Figueroa.

Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, echoed similar sentiments.

“There has never been a day in U.S. history when more workers in more places have won a common demand,” stated Henry. “And there has never been a stronger case for why workers need an organization to help them improve their lives. Ten million people will be lifted out of poverty because workers joined together and acted like a union.”

With big states such as California and New York getting on board the minimum wage train, other cities, states and institutions are looking to follow suit. Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser recently unveiled a plan to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. John Cranley, the mayor of Cincinnati, wants to raise the minimum wage for city employees to $15 an hour as well.

Tamara Draut, author of the book “Sleeping Giant: How the New Working Class Will Transform America,” released a statement through the public policy organization Demos. Draut credited the Fight for 15 movement for the push.

“It’s time all policymakers acknowledge the economic struggles of the working class, and propose serious policies to address their concerns,” said Draut. “Empowering them is our best chance to return to the shared values of economic opportunity and widely shared prosperity.”