Low-Wage Workers in 50 Cities Stage Walk Out

Fast-food and retail workers demand a $15 minimum wage and the right to form unions in pre-Labor Day protest

By Imara Jones Aug 29, 2013

Just one day after the 50th commemoration of the March for Jobs and Freedom, minimum-wage workers in 50 cities across the United States have taken to the streets to demand a living wage.  

Those walking off the job across the country are asking that the minimum wage be raised to $15 an hour, as well as for the right to form unions. That wage is the same-dollar equivalent to the 1963 March on Washington’s call for a $2 per hour minimum wage.  

Troublingly, five decades after the original march the grandchildren of those who participated are protesting for the same goal: essential economic fairness.

The problem is that the current minimum wage of $7.25 is a driving force behind the fact that one out of three Americans who work don’t earn enough to live. At minimum wage an employee earns only $15,000 a year. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, that’s the poverty level for a worker with one child.

And the minimum wage is a racial justice issue as well. Four out of 10 of those who hold these jobs are people of color.  A report by the Restaurant Opportunities Center found that three million people of color could be lifted out of poverty if the minimum wage were increased even to $10 an hour.

That’s why thousands are protesting in front of fast food restaurants such as McDonalds, Burger King and Wendy’s today and retailers including Dollar Tree, Sears and Macy’s. Given that the fact that dining and retail combined generate almost $5 trillion in economic activity, perhaps their time has come.

Either way, today’s effort shows that the fight for economic justice marches on. Updates to their efforts can be followed at Twitter #829strike.