$15 Minimum Wage: Fast Food Workers Strike as Congress Considers Hike


Fast food workers have launched a strike during Black History Month amid congressional negotiations over a federal minimum wage increase, the Guardian reported. Tuesday’s work stoppage comes as a $15 minimum wage is being discussed in the conversation about a new COVID-19 relief package in Congress and a month after a similar strike honored Martin Luther King Jr. last month.

“This Black History Month, we have a chance to make our own history by winning a living wage of at least $15 an hour and lifting millions of families out of poverty,” Taiwanna Milligan, a McDonald’s worker from South Carolina, told the Guardian. “I’m striking today because I need at least $15 an hour to survive and because I know the only way to make change is to stand up, speak out, and demand it.”

“[Nine dollars and fifty cents an hour] is not nearly enough,” 20-year-old Gloria Machuca, a McDonald’s worker in Texas, told the Guardian. “Fifteen dollars would mean I could spend more time with my children, not worry about going hungry, paying bills.”

“Fast food workers nationwide are going on strike for $15 an hour, COVID-safe workplaces, and respect on the job February 16,” Fight for $15, a leading organization in the years-long effort to raise wages, wrote on Twitter Friday. “#FightFor15 workers have been fighting too long for higher wages.”

Business Insider reported that, according to Fight for $15, workers in 15 cities are striking on Tuesday. The strikers are employed by restaurants such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Domino’s, Taco Bell, and Wendy’s. The organization told the outlet this strike is specifically focused on Black communities “who have faced generations of low pay and insufficient protections on the job, leaving them particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.”

As Insider reported last month, research from the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute suggests raising the minimum wage would increase income for nearly one in three Black workers. According to the institute, 23% of people who could see a boost in wages would be Black or Latinx women. Women of color are overrepresented in low-wage work, according to the National Women’s Law Center.

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The pros and cons of raising the federal minimum wage are a hot topic as Democrats have pushed for $15 in the COVID-19 relief package that’s been in the works for some time. As CBS News reported earlier in February, House Democrats introduced a gradual wage hike to $15 by 2025 in a new COVID-19 relief bill. President Joe Biden has backed the efforts, as the AP reported, but he’s also acknowledged the difficulty of getting it past the Senate.





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