After getting started by a group of fast-food workers in New York City, the Fight for $15 movement has already reached the rest of America and the globe. Now it has reached the White House.
Last week, Kansas City, Mo.-based McDonald’s and Burger King worker Terrence Wise introduced President Barack Obama at the White House Summit on Worker Voice. Wise is one of the leaders of Kansas City’s Fight for $15 uprising.
“We work hard every day, but wages are so low we skip meals,” said Wise during his speech introducing Obama. “We’ve been homeless, and with two jobs, I barely see my daughters. Things didn’t improve until I joined with fast-food workers across America to stand up and build a movement for $15 and create other opportunities to make our voice heard by joining a union.”
Wise, despite working two decades in the fast-food industry, makes only $8 an hour. His fiancee is a home care worker who is paid only $10 an hour. They have three daughters and rely on public assistance.
“I have seen firsthand how we are heard—and how we make change—when workers like us stick together,” Wise continued. “We are united as working people, as moms and dads, as proud Americans, to make sure all work pays what we need to support our families.”
Wise has a lot of proof of workers wanting to organize and fight for better wages and conditions. In a new poll released by the National Employment Law Project, 72 percent of underpaid workers approve of labor unions, with 75 percent supporting the idea of a $15 minimum wage and a right to form a union. The poll was conducted using the survey platforms Harris Interactive and YouGov and polled workers who were paid less than $15 an hour. Over half of those polled had heard of the Fight for $15 campaign.
“We’ve long known that unions help create good jobs and boost the economy, and now we know that underpaid workers share that view as well,” said NELP Executive Director Christine Owens. In a statement. “An overwhelming majority want $15 and a union—and a president who will stand behind them in support of these basic rights. Underpaid workers in our country are a powerful force to be reckoned with in the workplace and the voting booth.”
NELP’s new poll follows its April 2015 poll, which concluded that 42 percent of workers in the United States are paid less than $15 an hour.