Let’s Make History: Going All in for $15 on April 15th

by on April 14, 2015 · 0 comments

in Economy, History, Labor, Organizing, Politics, San Diego

SD Fight for 15By Doug Porter

What started out as protests against wages paid to workers in fast food restaurants in a few big cities has become a nationwide movement, encompassing retail, home care, security, child care, and airport workers, along with adjunct college professors.

On Wednesday, April 15th, while much of the traditional news media is camped outside post offices trying to interview the vanishing breed of Luddites using snail mail to file their taxes, these modern-day fighters for fair wages will be protesting in over 200 cities nationwide.

As was true with the civil rights movement of the 20th century, an increasing number of persons of conscience are joining in with those brave enough to challenge an injustice.If you’re aware of the ever-increasing level of economic inequality and sick of the system that primarily rewards those at top, this is an opportunity to spend a few hours doing something more than tsk-tsking at articles posted in social media.

Joining a picket line or a protest rally can be a scary thing. The world doesn’t stop to think about or care for that cause. Demonstrations attract angry people (on all sides of an issue). They’re messy, noisy, confusing and often frustrating. Yet history proves the cumulative effort of that noise and disruption is what drives real change.

While the focus and noisiest action locally will be retail outlets at San Diego State, smaller actions led by low wage employees and their supporters will be happening around America’s Finest City all day long.

These smaller actions will be low key by design: the lack of legal protections against retaliation and the use of the local gendarmes as enforcers for employers necessitate quick and mobile protests.

(With a little luck, this columnist will be “embedded” for the day and able to produce a first draft of this history as seen by those participating in it.)

Here’s a little history you won’t read in the daily fishwrap: the insurgent movement in the restaurant industry has its roots as a support group for displaced workers in the aftermath of the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

What started in 2012 as a scattered walkout at fast food restaurants in New York city has grown steadily in scope and size. The protests on April 15, 2015 will be the fifth with workers in multiple cities participating.

It shouldn’t surprise anybody that unions (specifically, the Service Employees International Union) have shown their support for these actions. I can’t imagine anybody else with the time and resources who could take on a complicated organizing project like this.

You certainly won’t see anybody from the (industry-sponsored) Small Business Coalition taking an interest in people fighting for basic survival (other than to exploit them). And you certainly won’t see any of San Diego’s marquee journalists anywhere near “those people.” It’s so much easier to publish stories that get you rewarded with a pat on the back and a craft beer at the next gathering with the minions of the political elite.


This is an excerpt from Doug Porter’s daily column at our online media partner, San Diego Free Press.


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