Four years ago, the Fight for $15 movement was launched. Now, it’s big enough to have a national meeting.
Last week, worker, organizers, activists and union members met in Richmond, Va., for the first Fight for $15 convention. Taking place over two days, the convention looked to establish an agenda that everyone fighting for a living wage can spread to cities and towns across the country.
Picking Richmond as the location for the convention wasn’t by chance. Richmond is the former capital of the Confederacy, and workers wanted to highlight how racist policies have held back working families of color.
“We abolished slavery more than 150 years ago, but its legacy is still felt in economic policies and working conditions that hold back Black and Latino working people across America,” said Sepia Coleman, a home-care worker from Memphis, Tenn., in a statement. “When you add in decades of attacks on workers who organized unions, you get a devastating result that has left tens of millions of us unable to support our families. We’re all in the same boat now, so we have no choice but to row together and row forcefully.”
Before the group gathered for the convention rallied and marched, they passed something known as a “Richmond Resolution,” which vows to intensify the efforts of the Fight for $15 movement around the country. The resolution includes mass protests and rallies hitting the upcoming presidential and vice presidential debates leading up to Election Day.
“Centuries of racism ingrained in the structure of our society and 40 years of corporate attacks on working families fighting for a decent life have left America without a strong middle class, but the workers of the Fight for $15 are starting to turn the tide,” said Mary Kay Henry, president of the Service Employees International Union, in a statement. “This year, underpaid Americans will show elected leaders in every state in America that they are a voting bloc that cannot be ignored and will not be denied.”
The union has supported Fight for $15 ever since it began in New York City in 2012.
The resolution also includes supporting legislative action to raise minimum wage floors across the cities and states that were part of the Confederacy and winning the right for all working Americans to form unions without fear of retaliation from their employers.
“We will challenge wealthy and powerful political interests that claim to care for ordinary families but nullify any attempt to raise our wages,” read the resolution.
One worker concurred with the resolution’s goals.
“People who work for fast food corporations like McDonald’s led the way, but the Fight for $15 is now for everyone,” stated Derick Smith, an adjunct faculty member at North Carolina A&T State University. “By joining together and passing the Richmond Resolution, we’re saying loud and clear that we will hold our nation’s elected leaders and deep-pocketed corporations accountable to cooks, cashiers, home-care workers and all 64 millions of us paid less than $15.”