Low Pay is Not O.K.

Yesterday, fast-food workers in more than 150 cities went on strike to demand a living wage and the right to unionize. For the first time, home health workers also joined the protests to fight for higher pay. According to organizers, almost 500 people were arrested around the country for civil disobedience like blocking intersections.

The protests are being called the largest coordinated action by the low-wage workers movement so far, stemming from the original “Fight for 15” movement that started just two years ago. Protesters in cities from New York City to San Diego stood together chanting “Low Pay is Not O.K.,” and workers as far away as Denmark joined protests to show their solidarity.

In a relatively short time, a few hundred low-wage workers in New York City sparks an international movement, and it doesn't appear to be going away any time soon. Although some cities and towns throughout the United States have increased their minimum wage, millions of workers are still struggling to make ends meet on the federal minimum of $7.25. And, despite strong regulations and recent rulings against it, many employers are still blocking workers' attempts to form a union.

Kaya Moody, a protester in Detroit, said, “We always get the 'Do you really think you deserve $15 an hour as a fast food worker?' We get that a lot, and I just feel like, who doesn't deserve $15 an hour, you know? It's a living wage.”

These low-wage workers have recognized that if they want the right to organize and a living wage, they're going to have to fight for it. However, yesterday's massive strike proves they're not backing down from the challenge.

Latoya Caldwell, a Wendy's worker in Kansas City, Missouri, said, “We're a movement now. We know this is going to be a long fight, but we're going to fight it [un]till we win.”

In the richest nation on earth, no one who works full time should be living in poverty, and every worker should have the power to bargain collectively. The best way to protect our right to unionize is to use it, and low-wage workers all around the world are showing us how it's done.

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