The Fight for $15 movement marked its fourth anniversary Tuesday with rallies across the country and dozens of reported arrests.
The Fight for $15 has been at the forefront of the minimum wage debate since it started in November 2012. It has argued the minimum wage should be increased to $15 an hour across the country. The movement marked its fourth year with a national protest that included demonstrations in cities across the country.
“We are not backing down until the economy is fixed for all workers,” Fight for $15 told supporters over text. “Hundreds of low-wage workers arrested across the nation while peacefully protesting against poverty pay. Spread the word.”
Fight for $15 detailed on its website that arrests occurred in New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, Detroit and Minneapolis. The New York Police Department confirmed to InsideSources that 26 protesters were arrested for disorderly conduct.
“People need that $15 just to live on,” Yvonne Wallace told InsideSources. “They just can’t make it. Some people are working two jobs. If they had $15 an hour, they could be home with their family more instead of just working two jobs and trying to scramble and find childcare.”
Wallace came out to support workers at Reagan National Airport outside Washington, D.C. The airport became the main area for demonstrations in the capital region with the city already passing a measure to gradually phase in the $15 minimum wage.
The Fight for $15 movement has seen dozens of cities and two states enact the minimum wage increase. New York and California passed the policy this past year. The movement is primarily supported by labor unions like the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).
“It’s not just about $15 and a union, it’s about giving a living wage to everybody,” SEIU member Rayshawn Pitts told InsideSources. “There’s still a lot of work to be done. We want the wage, but we also want what comes with it; respect, good healthcare, looking at people having a living wage in their life.”
The Fight for $15 and other supporters argue the policy is a great way to lift low-wage workers out of poverty. Critics warn it will actually hurt the poor by reducing employment opportunities. Some have even expressed concern that the movement backers have alternative motives.
“These protests are nothing more than a public relations campaign designed to divert the public and policymakers from demanding real solutions,” International Franchise Association President Robert Cresanti said in a statement provided to InsideSources. “Let’s not forget the true thrust of the protests was never a $15/hour minimum wage, but rather a cynical play to use the wage issue to artificially grow union membership.”
Cresanti adds that low-wages must be addressed but urged a different approach. The Employment Policies Institute released a video Monday showing how the policy hurts small businesses. The video was the latest in an ongoing series showcasing employers who have been hurt by the $15 minimum wage.
The National Bureau of Economic Research and The Heritage Foundation found the increase will have a significant impact on employment. They found the risk is especially bad for young and low-skilled workers. The University of California, Berkeley found any losses would be marginal compared to the potential benefits.
Fight for $15 did not respond to a request for additional comment by InsideSources.