Starting before dawn and going long after dusk on Thursday, December 4, workers in almost 200 American cities walked out on strike demanding $15 an hour and the right to organize without retaliation. From New York to the Pacific Northwest, thousands of workers from fast food restaurants, convenience and dollar stores, and the home care and airport industries came together to challenge their poverty wage employers to do better.
Here in Washington State, where the fight for $15 has already been successful in SeaTac and Seattle, a day of rolling fast food strikes ended with a raucous demonstration outside an Olympia Olive Garden.
Hundreds of fast food workers with Working Washington launched strikelines across Seattle in May 2013, calling for $15 an hour and the right to organize, and sparking a movement to strike poverty by raising wages. Through a year of intensifying of marches, boycotts, strikes, and other mobilizations, worker voices dominated the public debate, making income inequality and the minimum wage into the central public issues of the day.
There are thousands of poverty-wage workers at our first-class airport, including the people who handle bags, clean cabins, provide passenger services, and fuel the planes. These poverty-wage workers at Sea-Tac Airport aren’t employed by the airlines or even the Port of Seattle, which runs the airport. Instead, these jobs have been contracted out to the lowest-bidder, driving down wages and benefits. Now these workers are organizing to make every job at our airport a good job. And they are winning.
We have the power to build a better future. We can create good jobs by investing in our communities. We can stop the cuts to healthcare, education, and other services. And we can make sure the rich pay their fair share so every community can thrive.
But the economy isn’t going to improve if we just wait for the corporations and the politicians to do the right thing. That’s why we’re building a movement to fight for good jobs and a better future for everyone.