The Fight for $15 took to the streets of Boston on Tuesday, and two van-loads of SEA/SEIU Local 1984 members were there in the middle of it. The Fight for $15 is a national movement pushing for a living wage for workers.
The rally in Boston brought together people from all walks of life and all age groups — in fact, two of the SEA members who went brought their daughters with them. Several SEIU locals were out in force and hundreds of students from Northeastern University — where the rally started — joined in support of adjunct faculty there.
Jen Cheney, who works in the Rochester DHHS office, was there with her daughter, a high school senior. Cheney said the experience helped drive home the importance of working to help others.
“It was such a great experience to have her along,” she said. “I think she really understands why I spend so much time on union activities and why it’s all so important. … I think it helps develop who she is: she sees that one person can make a difference.”
This movement, of course, has more than one person behind it, and it’s seen successes all across the country. Still, it’s been slow to catch on here in New Hampshire — something Cheney said her daughter recognized. That’s why spreading awareness and educating people here is so important, Cheney noted.
“So many people don’t know what it’s truly about,” she said. “The misconception is that people are going to get more money an hour without having to do anything for it. What they’re not getting is that it’s truly improving the quality of life.”
“If you work 40 hours a week, there’s nothing wrong with asking for a living wage,” she said.
Phil Burt, who works at DHHS, said the rally was “inspiring” and something that could really catch on.
“It’s a cause I can see younger folks embracing and working for, where politics might be overwhelming or something they’re not ready to get involved in,” Burt said.
Burt noted that when employers — most notably big, profitable corporations — pay low wages, it’s taxpayers who end up footing the bill because the employees end up needing public assistance to make ends meet.
“We pay it in the form of housing assistance, food stamps and other taxpayer-funded services,” Burt said. “Taxpayers should want to support a $15 minimum wage so we’re not subsidizing these corporations.”
If you’d like to get a better sense of the energy at Tuesday’s rally, the Boston Globe produced this great video.
The SEA/SEIU Local 1984 has a Fight for $15 ad hoc committee. If you’re interested in joining, you can email chair Cindy Perkins at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also sign this petition in support of fast food workers, who started the Fight for $15 movement two years ago.