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.


Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 41 weeks ago

Hip-hip-HOORAY! Those thieving franchise owners & CEOs are gonna have to share more of the bounty whether they like it or not.

Takes a tremendous amount of courage for someone living paycheck-to-paycheck to go on strike. I tip my hat to each and every one of them, for they are heroes in my book. - AIW

RichardofJeffersonCity's picture
RichardofJeffer... 9 years 41 weeks ago

In a case like this boycotts work, just imagine if an organization like a MASSIVE NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL CONSUMER UNION existed to join in solidarity with these fast food workers. They could withhold their collective buying power from these compaines adding economic pressure on these food chains, to help the strikers negotiate from a position of strength.

RichardofJeffersonCity's picture
RichardofJeffer... 9 years 41 weeks ago

Viva La Proletariat !!!

leighmf's picture
leighmf 9 years 41 weeks ago

I agree buyers should strike back too, by boycotting the establishments and institutions of tyrants.

Gary Reber's picture
Gary Reber 9 years 41 weeks ago

Unfortunately, the workers know ONLY a job as a way to earn an income. Thus, they demonstrate and rally in support of raising the minimum wage on the grounds that they do not make enough to survive.

What is lacking is an understanding of why the rich are rich and addressing this issue head on. Its not rocket science to understand that the rich are rich because they are the OWNERS of wealth-creating, income-producing capital assets of businesses.

If we recognize this reality, then to address the problem of not earning enough income to survive it should be obvious that simply raising the minimum wage is not the solution, but instead the solution is to empower every worker — or anyone else — to become a capital owner. To make this the new reality we need to remove barriers to full participation in economic life, not put more in place. Fundamentally, the only thing keeping workers and anyone else from acquiring ownership shares of wealth-creating, income-producing capital assets is how to pay for the capital. Fortunately, we do not have to rely on past savings to finance new capital formation but merely make necessary reforms to shift to a system in which capital pays for itself out of its own earnings, and makes certain everyone who wants to be an owner has the equal opportunity and access to the means.

sandlewould's picture
sandlewould 9 years 41 weeks ago

Hi ALice...

On a publicly personal note, how the hell are ya?! Crazy summer ...still want to get together in the chat room to exchange personal emails...

OK a bit off topic but in light of Thom's recent release on Green World Rising, I thought it important to share; http://arctic-news.blogspot.com/2014/09/state-of-extreme-emergency.html?mc_cid=b5de2e6df7&mc_eid=57581abffc

This is a paid subscription, I am sharing once with permission; http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=b8e53c620300ae88791163048&id=b5de2e6df7&e=57581abffc

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 41 weeks ago

Richard J, the idea of a national/international consumer union gives me goose bumps... YEAH!

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 41 weeks ago

WOW Sandlewould! What a SURPRISE!!! And I love your picture. You've just made my day honey! You bet I'd like to swap e-mail addresses. Did that with Marc already, weeks ago. Been a blast corresponding with him off the blog. I'd love to do the same with you... YES!

When Marc and I first took the plunge, we found it works best to make an "appointment". I'm on the Pacific time zone; are you on the east coast? I'm not quite sure how my weekend is gonna go schedule-wise, but let's work something out.

By the way, I should tell you not to expect to correspond with me in that live chat room... not beyond exchanging e-mail addresses. I much prefer taking the time to compose my messages, like this format permits. Works for me.

There's a thread I've been very involved with, if you're interested in checking it out. But let me warn you, the subject being discussed is very emotionally charged and not for the faint of heart. It's about rape, and "rape culture". (I'll admit, it brings out my ornery side with the stupid comments some guys have been making... ahem-ahem.) But there's a really neat woman blogger on that thread who for some reason, reminds me of you. Blog name is Zenzoe. Different crowd in those sidebar threads but interesting to interact with. Here's the link: http://www.thomhartmann.com/forum/2013/04/rape-culture-claims-another-victim-teen-ends-life-after-photo-her-alleged-gang-rape-go#comment-281662

Love that avatar, Sandles. Don't change it, pleeeeeazzze! - AIW

P.S. I tried e-mailing you via an address you'd submitted here months before, but no luck. I did this around the time Marc & I got set up to correspond off the blog. So your message really made my day.

Howard Laverne Stewart's picture
Howard Laverne ... 9 years 41 weeks ago

The fast food strike is a good start to rebuilding this country to it's former glory.

Frosty46's picture
Frosty46 9 years 41 weeks ago

Unions are the only answer to the Greed Mongers of the US. Amazing that workers have stood still for the raping up to now-----------Since the monster union killer Ronnie Raygun started the Kill the Workers actions of the 1980's; workers have laid down and took the raping by the Republicans. So fine to see a backbone developing in young workers.

ckrob's picture
ckrob 9 years 41 weeks ago

Off topic:

Were the Dems actually to get it together, they should collectively run on the question: "Should the Repubs be rewarded with more power after obstructing governmental functioning for the last six years when the nation needed action on" (list here)? Add the tally of filibusters for the six years compared to the rest of American history and legislation sent to the other house of congress which was not acted on. Truman did pretty well running against a 'do-nothing' congress. It just needs to be clear to the uninformed voter which party was doing the obstructing of what. Sounds like a topic for a national TV blitz by Obama and the DNC. They've got less than two months.

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 41 weeks ago

Well said, Thom! Raising the minimum wage would be great for us all. Not only would it infuse much needed capital into the hands of the people who need it most, it would also stimulate spending and our economy. Also, paying a living wage to more people would add much more choices to the rest of us. If we don't like our jobs we could just go work for McDonalds. That would help us all to seek better wages as well as our companies would have to compete more for our labor. Kudos to these brave pioneering international protesters! Kudos!!

RichardofJeffersonCity's picture
RichardofJeffer... 9 years 41 weeks ago

Aliceinwonderland, I wish my composition was more convincing, because I believe this is a real solution to our nation’s problems and the world in general. Consumption drives the world markets and it also drives American domestic and foreign policy. If the people of the country used their collective buying power to control consumption and a campaign to educate the public, to curve commercialized manufactured consumerism based on desire not practicality, the control of markets would fall into public consent (democracy).

I have three reaction to my idea of consumer unions. First, people like yourself, see it as a sensible idea. Second, people are very skeptical and apply wild assumption to the concept, and the third, People are completely indifferent. I always find an unwillingness to even consider an idea very frustrating. The problems with most conservative ideology is that it’s locked into a narrow prospective with little penetration but I’ve found that the democratic spectrum of thought has a lot more acceptance but suffers from exclusion of outside prospective that don’t fit into democratic orthodoxy.

I hope the reason my ideas on consumer unions doesn’t have a broader appeal, to what I consider like-minded people like Thom Hartmann followers, has to do with my presentation and not the worthiness of the idea, because I believe it might be the best chance for the American public to organize in such a fashion to be affective against the state and private institution that want keep mindless consumption a American way of life.

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 41 weeks ago

Richard, I see nothing lacking in your powers of persuasion. And I sure don't need convincing. I think it's a great idea. The only power we "average" people (peasants) possess is in our numbers, and I can imagine no better way to harness that power. Then maybe we could take back the commons, and direct our collective resources at something not only more sustainable but more just. Count me in! - AIW

Willie W's picture
Willie W 9 years 41 weeks ago

This idea could be workable. Imagine if, during the Wall Street occupation, this idea had been presented to the public ( with specifics ) while they had the nation's attention. Who knows?

DAnneMarc's picture
DAnneMarc 9 years 41 weeks ago

RichardofJeffer... ~ Personally, I love the idea; and, I think the American people will too. Remember how much they embraced Ralph Nader and his consumer advocacy? This is not too different of an approach than that. Basically, it takes the power of the market away from the producers and puts it where it naturally and rightly belongs--in the hands of the consumers.

The only problem I foresee is the fact that the producers have invested a fortune of their windfall in manipulating the market through commercial advertising. This is a huge hurdle to overcome. They have corrupted the natural flow of the market so much that they can actually dictate what people want through advertising. Through advertising they can convince even the most educated among us into believing that we need something that we actually don't really need; and, that if purchased, we probably might not even ever use. However, if Ralph Nader could overcome this obsticle, I have every faith that so can we!

That is why I particularly like your idea. It is a way to level the playing field and return scrutinization and rationalization to the consumer. It is, in a way, nothing more than Ralph Nader on steroids. A National Consumer Union is a long time coming; and, I firmly believe that once introduced in our society, the healthy and progressive impact that it would have on every aspect of it would solidify it as a long term, truly American institution that would be here to stay. As such, it would only be a matter of time till the idea grew and spread abroad--as most truly American institutions seem to do. When that happens it might just spark the end of industrial flight as we know it.

Quote RichardofJeffer...:I always find an unwillingness to even consider an idea very frustrating.

Very well said! I share the feeling!

mathboy's picture
mathboy 9 years 41 weeks ago

Who inserted "un" in front of "till"? "Till" is a word, and it means the same thing as "until". What's not a word is " 'til ". That's from a mistaken interpretation of "till" as a contraction of "until".

RichardofJeffersonCity's picture
RichardofJeffer... 9 years 41 weeks ago

Thank you Alice, I am trying to become a stronger writer. This goes without saying, but it’s always good to get positive feedback. It would be nice to have an organization built of the citizenry to use collective consent to sway over public issues like control of the commons, natural resources, social benefit, international trade deals and countless other issues that public is excluded from participation.

Willie W, there have been countless situation where an organization like a massive consumer union would’ve been a useful force in helping movements like OWS. The foundation for something like this needs to be laid now, so we don’t have to say things like I wish or that would have been great, instead we could call on the forces of collective consent (democracy) Consumer Unions to give real strength to movements like OWS, the striking food workers or any group, organization, movement that is fighting against injustice social or economic.

DAnneMarc, the idea for Consumer Unions comes from Nader general advocacy for consumerism. I’ve never understood why or if he did come to this conclusion himself, why Nader never ask people to take the next step, which should’ve been obvious from my estimation. Ralph may have advocated for something like a CU, however, in what I’ve read from and about Nader, nothing like this was considered. Nader’s the Consumer Union is just an advocacy organization for consumers. My contention is that Consumer Unions should be an organization of citizens using collective buying power to participate in the economy.

I’ve got a general outline for Consumer Unions in my blog, with the heading Consumer Unions, along with some post addressing response to my ideas on the subject. I would love some input. I’m considering starting a website to see if there is enough interest to possibly go forward in the development of the CU.

I need collaboration and assistance if this is going to be possible. There are plenty of things I’m completely ignorant of like economic data. I do not list a lot economic data because I do not want to mislead due to mistaking what the data means. I’ve been on some sites that give economic statistics and it wasn’t obvious to me what the numbers meant. Other than belonging to several labor unions in my lifetime, I know virtually nothing about organizing. Using social media, constructing an affective website or where a good place is for hosting a website, I haven’t got a background in such things, however, all that can be learned but an organization has to have people. A single person with modest means, regardless of the soundness of the idea, can do nothing without people standing with him/her in solidarity of common causes.

People form unions not ideas. I ask anybody interested, in building the foundations of an organization that might be the best way to inject the democratic process into the economic and social systems of United States, to join in the creation of Consumer Unions.

rocketman1701's picture
rocketman1701 9 years 41 weeks ago

That would be amazing - if we could pull it off. If most workers (not just fast food) were unionized, we would already have this. The problem is that there is sick paradigm that feeds on itself. It goes like this:

1- Union workers are just lazy, trying to get something for nothing and willing to destroy a business to get their way.

2- People are unwilling to "buy" into solidarity. If a strike is called, people are angry at the strikers, for the inconvience caused, and refer back to #1, and

3- people believe that if wages go up, prices will skyrocket, causing hardship on everyone else, and

4- that wages of non management workers are the main cost of (every) business - and any increase will just put all the small mom and pop places out of business, thus proving #1.

I am NOT saying this is true - but I am saying most people believe it to be true, and that people act on what they believe to be true, (and don't confuse me with facts!) ie. Climate change, the earth is 6200 years old, vaccanations do more harm than good...

ckrob's picture
ckrob 9 years 41 weeks ago

Re: Monday's (9/8/14) phone-kill technology comment, will the police be able to disable all phones video-taping during a protest? Let's hear from the EFF on how they view this issue.

Mark J. Saulys's picture
Mark J. Saulys 9 years 41 weeks ago

You know, consumption is also our weak spot and I wonder if we'd really be able to sustain an effort at withholding consumption. The elites know when it comes to a choice between principle and consumption the American public will choose consumption every time. George Kennan, a foreign policy advisor of Trumann said about moral uneasiness for our foreign policy of supporting brutal puppet governments in the Third World to maintain our consumeristic lifestyle in our effectual colonialism to steal the resources of those countries, to roughly paraphrase, "Put away your notions of human freedom, justice and brotherhood. We are not about to give up our life style so resign yourselves to the brutal dommination of the undeveloped societies."

I wonder if we ever could forgo consumption in a meaningful way. The Maoists believe that the American worker is "bought off", bribed. They're fat and happy in an extravegant middle class of an extravegant society and are too used to ease, comfort and dissipating entertainment. They lack the will power to act - or even care - about anything. Even the middle class dissappearing hasn't lessened the American workers' appetite for ease, comfort and dissipation.

Modern American Leninists, for this reason, believe that any revolution in the United States must be a palace revolution not a popular revolution and must be carried out by proffessional, specially trained and educated revolutionaries and not left to the mass of people. Similarly, after the revolution the society must be governed, for a period of perhaps several generations, by a dictatorship of the same proffesionals, the party members, to detox the masses from consumerism before they can be allowed to govern themselves, i.e., participate in the governance of their society.

I don't think I believe that but the weakness of will of the American workers/consumers is hard to deny.

RichardofJeffersonCity's picture
RichardofJeffer... 9 years 41 weeks ago

Mark, the only way to ever know if the American people can break the cycle of commercial consumerism is to try to counter by effective means. I don’t believe this has ever been tried in a serious way like what a nationalized consumer union proposes. The historical record of social engineering and manufacturing of public opinion, by state and private powers goes back to the Creel Commission during the of the Wilson administration. There are documented cases of public manipulation before that day, but this was the first state institution set up specifically to engineer public consent.

I believe you’re being far too cynical. The ruling class wouldn’t spend so much time and effort trying to control the minds of the public if they didn’t understand that the illusion is what’s keeping people under their thumb. I am not asking for revolutionary change. I’m not even asking for the majority of people to make their selves a target of the system. I’m asking people not to participate in an economy that is design to undermine the public. They don’t have stop consuming completely just don’t buy what they don’t need and this would be an effective way to give the people a voice in the system.

Consumer consent could be the 5th estate in the US and around the world. The economy is based entirely on the insane principles of unlimited growth and that unlimited grow is based on consumption. It’s all an illusion but that illusion works if people participate. The informed consumer can make choices to undermine the system that has absolutely no problem undermining the consumer. The effective collective control of financial distribution of purchasing power by a mass consumer union would give consumer consent a voice in the economic and social policies of the county.

Yes, powers would try to undermine a consumer union the moment it became effective. That’s why education is the most essential aspect I believe. An informed consumer is a dangerous consumer in a capitalist market. Lift the fog of commercial consumerism and you’ve got a person making rational decisions that can lead to effective change in our society. Nothing about what I’m proposing is simple but that premises isn’t that hard to conceive in a person’s mind. If 30 million people take their selves out of the market and that in return inspires others to do the same then you can make demands of the market that couldn’t be made otherwise.

I am not talking about destroying companies, I am just taking about the consumer having say in how those companies participate in the markets, how they treat their workers, how they move work overseas to undermine labor, how their earnings are distributed. In what I’m proposing companies can still operate any way they want, but they will no longer have the collective buying power of the Consumer Union as costumers. I believe this alone would change the way most companies operate, but this will never happen if consumption is not controlled somehow.

sandlewould's picture
sandlewould 9 years 41 weeks ago

Wow, Alice,

Weekend blew by before I even had time/energy to check for your reply. Thanks for liking the Avitar...I had to post it on my F-book page so I could be recognized by 'Muse', a social justice woman's choir I recently auditioned into...somehow it got to Thom's page, I don't remember uploading it here...weird. Maybe I was logged in at the same time or something..anyhoo, I have a public e-mail for such things and will give it here as I'm not too terribly threatened by the folks who frequent this blog.. sophsandlewould at AOhelL dot com. I will check the thread you mentioned...am honored that a survivor would remind you of me ; )... talk soon!

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 41 weeks ago

Thanks Sandles! Great to hear back from ya.

I never would've guessed how your new avatar photo appeared here. Cool. Not everything that happens by accident is a bad thing. To cite another example, when I'm playing one of my piano compositions, I'll occasionally hit a "wrong" note that sounds really neat, so I end up keeping the "wrong" note and playing it that way deliberately from then onward.

A social justice women's choir... Love it! Wonderful. I hope y'all make recordings; if you do, I'd enjoy hearing what you come up with.

Just happened to check out this thread five minutes after you posted your note! I'll e-mail you shortly, so check out your inbox when you can. - AIW

sandlewould's picture
sandlewould 9 years 41 weeks ago


There are recordings, but none with 'me' on them...yet, (as if that matters) musechoir.org

Aliceinwonderland's picture
Aliceinwonderland 9 years 41 weeks ago

P.S. Sandles, I just e-mailed you a message. Tried copying & pasting your e-mail address as you wrote it here, but it didn't work, so I altered it so that it looks like: <sophsandlewould@aol.com> Hope that works. Be sure to e-mail me back to conform that it was received.

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