Nationwide Strike Tomorrow for $15 Minimum Wage!

Dear Commons Community,

A $15 minimum wage will be in the foreground tomorrow, when fast-food and other low-wage workers plan a nationwide walkout that is expected to draw tens of thousands of people. The protest is the latest show of strength by the Fight for $15, a campaign that economists partly credit with the recent decisions by employers like Walmart and McDonald’s to raise the minimum wage they pay workers. This will put pressure on all the presidential candidates to show where they stand on the minimum wage issue.  As reported in the New York Times:

“The days of debating $9 or $10 an hour are over. The active debate is in the realm of $12 to $15,” said Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a grass-roots organizing group with nearly one million members. “In 2016, the Murray $12-an-hour position will be the floor, not the ceiling.”

It is not just grass-roots activists and Hillary Clinton’s fellow Democratic politicians who have come out in favor of a substantial wage increase. Those who attended the semiannual meeting this week of the Democracy Alliance, a network of wealthy progressive donors created with help from the billionaire investor George Soros and the insurance mogul Peter Lewis, reported that the minimum-wage campaign had become a topic of discussion as the donors grappled with income inequality.

“Fast-food workers in the street for $15, that changes the conversation,” said Stephen M. Silberstein, a member of the Democracy Alliance, who also was executive producer of the recent documentary, Inequality for All. “You didn’t have that a couple years ago.”

With a recent accumulation of economic literature suggesting that moderate increases in the minimum wage have little to no cost when it comes to employment, opposition even among economists in the business world has begun to melt. Last Thursday, the economic research department of Goldman Sachs, which is widely followed by policy makers, released an analysis of minimum wage increases that made no allusion to possible job losses.

“It was remarkable to me,” said Jared Bernstein, a former economic adviser to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. who is now a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “There was no mention in the whole analysis of disemployment effects.”

Even Republicans, whose party has long been skeptical of the minimum wage, have begun to soften their opposition. “I’m not for repealing the minimum wage,” Senator Marco Rubio of Florida said at a candidate forum in January. “But I can tell you, I don’t want people to make $10.10 an hour. I want them to make $30 an hour.”

Power to the people!



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