Tens of Thousands Hit Streets to Mark Fourth Anniversary of Fight for $15
NORTH MIAMI – Local fast-food workers walked off the job before dawn on early Tuesday morning, kicking off a wave of strikes and civil disobedience by working Americans in the Fight for $15. More than 1,000 arrests are expected across the country as part of a nationwide Day of Disruption on the fourth anniversary of the launch of the powerful Fight for $15 movement.
Gathering at the McDonald’s on the corner of NE 130th Street and Biscayne Blvd. at 6AM, dozens of underpaid workers from across South Florida marched up and down the street chanting and waving signs demanding $15/hour and union rights.
Determined to carry their message far and wide, fast-food cashiers and cooks, home care providers, Lyft drivers, and advocates for labor, immigrant rights, criminal justice reform and racial justice — all issues disproportionately affecting fast-food workers in Miami — marched across the intersection at 135th Street and Biscayne Blvd., blocking traffic 8 lanes of oncoming traffic.
Linking arms across Biscayne Blvd., the crowd caused northbound and southbound traffic to grind to a halt in the middle of rush hour. With morning commuters honking, the workers remained steadfast, chanting, “We work, we sweat, put $15 on our check!”
Throughout the day, working Americans across South Florida and around the country will wage their most disruptive protests yet to show they won’t back down to newly-elected politicians and newly-empowered corporate special interests who threaten an extremist agenda to move the country far to the right. Fast-food, airport, home care, child care, higher education and rideshare workers are making it clear that any efforts to block wage increases, gut workers’ rights, reduce access to healthcare, deport immigrants or support racism or racist policies will be met with unrelenting opposition.
This morning’s action was just the start of this massive Day of Disruption. Starting at noon, airport workers will join up to 200 other low-wage workers, including striking fast food, home care and health care employees, at Fort Lauderdale Airport (FLL) as part of this massive multi-city protest to demand $15 and a union. The underpaid workers will march through the terminals and hold the largest ever mannequin challenge at FLL, illustrating the indignities that they endure, as well as their collective power.
The wave of strikes, civil disobedience and protests follows an election defined by workers’ frustration with a rigged economy that benefits the few at the top and comes exactly four years after 200 fast-food cooks and cashiers in New York City first walked off their jobs, sparking a movement for $15 and union rights that has compelled private-sector employers and local and state elected representatives to raise pay for 22 million Americans. A report released Tuesday by the National Employment Law Project shows the Fight for $15 has won nearly $62 billion in raises for working families since that first strike in 2012. That’s 10 times larger than the total raise received by workers in all 50 states under Congress’s last federal minimum wage increase, approved in 2007.
Voices from the Fight for $15
Laura Rollins, a 65-year-old great-grandmother who has worked in fast food for the last 20 years, said: “It’s sad but it’s true. We’re out here because we don’t make enough money to support ourselves. We don’t make enough money to feed our children. A lot of us have to work 2 or 3 jobs to make ends meet. We shouldn’t have to work 2-3 jobs to feed our families or pay our bills… They’ve got to start paying their workers what we’re really worth!”
Marlon Navas and Connie Martinez, parents of three teenagers, struggle to make ends meet despite both working at KFC and driving for Lyft, said: “It’s very hard living like this. We only make $8.05/hr. That’s not enough to support a family. We’re going to continue to fight until we get what we need to take care of our families.”
Julieta Mejia, 64-year-old home care worker from Miami, said: “For the last 14 years I have made the same salary, $8.05. I have to work two jobs. The job of a home care worker is difficult. We clean their house, we change their diapers and our pay is not enough. That’s why we need a raise because our job is very hard. We take care of people’s daily needs. And sometimes people treat us badly. We need a raise we know that we need much more than that. We’re out here today because we know that we need $15 and a union. And we’re standing up for our people and our rights.”
Ernise Ducasse, cabin cleaner for Eulen at FLL, said: “Much like the thousands of underpaid workers that make up the Fight for $15 movement, I am a Black, immigrant woman who is struggling to raise my family on the meager wages I earn. We are more determined than ever to stand up for our rights and to fight for equality in the workplace and in our society.”
SEIU Florida represents over 55,000 active and retired healthcare professionals, public employees and property service workers in the state of Florida. SEIU members provide vital public services in Florida’s hospitals, nursing homes, public schools, community colleges, municipal and county governments, malls, and universities. With over 2.1 million members, SEIU is the fastest-growing union in North America.