Low-Wage Workers Protest and Strike in Dozens of U.S. Cities, Demanding Living Wages and Union Rights

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Posted Aug. 7, 2013

Interview with Amelia Adams, deputy director with New York Communities for Change, conducted by Scott Harris

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Over the past year, the voices of low wage workers across the country have begun to be heard. With protests and strikes by employees at Walmart warehouses and stores – to more recent job actions by fast food workers, the demand for a living wage and the right to join unions is getting louder. In the most recent wave of protests and strikes, thousands of fast food workers in seven cities, including Chicago, Detroit and New York, workers held protest signs demanding an hourly wage increase to $15.00, doubling the current federal minimum wage of $7.25.

The protests have been organized by national and regional coalitions that include the Service Employees International Union, the United Food and Commercial Workers Union and workers organizing committees Fast Food Forward and Fight for 15. The restaurant industry has responded to the escalating demands by maintaining that raising the wages of workers to $15 dollars an hour would cut into already slim profits and result in layoffs, reduced hours and a move to automation to replace workers by hi-tech machines.

But with the support of religious leaders, social justice activist groups and politicians, low wage workers don’t appear ready to back down. In Washington the Obama administration and Democrats in Congress are moving to raise the minimum wage to $9.00 an hour, not nearly enough to support a family, but in the view of many activists a step in the right direction. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with Amelia Adams, deputy director with New York Communities for Change, formerly the New York chapter of ACORN, which began organizing fast food workers in New York City last year. Here she discusses the significance of recent protests by fast food and low wage workers across the U.S. and prospects for moving from poverty wages to earning a living wage.

Learn more about the campaign by low-wage workers for a living wage by visiting New York Communities for Change at NYCommunities.org.

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