On Thursday, low-wage workers across a number of industries walked off the job in a record 320 cities as part of the latest action from the Fight for 15 movement demanding a $15 minimum wage and the right to form unions.
Workers from the fast food industry — who have been staging increasingly large strikes over the last three years — will be joined by employees from other sectors. The movement that started in New York with McDonald’s and Burger King employees has now spread across the country to include child care workers, nursing home assistants, adjunct professors, and even Boston-area airport workers. It will also coincide with the second day of a strike staged by nearly 40,000 Verizon workers.
Thursday’s actions will include hospital workers at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), who will strike for the first time to demand a union and an end to what they say are the university’s harassment and discrimination against those who have been working to form one, charges that have been backed up by the National Labor Relations Board. That will include Nila Payton, a single mother of two sons, who will be walking off her job for the first time in her ten years with the hospital.
“I’m striking for their future,” she told ThinkProgress, speaking of her sons, ages two and 16. UPMC has already announced it will raise its base pay to $15 an hour by 2021, but Payton wants to see that hit sooner and to see the company address other issues facing her and her coworkers. Fifteen dollars an hour “can make a difference, but that just barely scratches the surface,” she said. “We can’t afford health care, our benefits.”