Workers organize for $15/hour, unions

In 270 cities across the United States, including Greensboro, protesters held up signs with slogans like “Show Me $15 And A Union” and “I Am On Strike To Raise Up The South.”

This was part of a nationwide protest on Nov. 10 organized by Raise Up for $15, an organization demanding a raise in the minimum wage from $7.25 to $15 an hour.

“We’ll call on corporations like McDonald’s to stop paying wages so low that we can’t make ends meet,” said the “Greensboro Worker Rally for $15 and Union Rights” Facebook event. “We’ll continue to stand up for our right to stick together in a union.

“We’ll also call on elected representatives to change the rules so ordinary people can get a fair shot. We’re sick and tired of corporations and the wealthy having so much power that they can manipulate the rules in their favor.”

More than 50 people marched from the Central Carolina Worker Justice Center to the Phil G. McDonald Governmental Plaza in Greensboro. During the rally, many shared their experiences living on $7.25.

“I got burnt at a restaurant job last winter, really badly where I had to get skin grafts,” said Rishona Hines ’13 to The Guilfordian. “It was a third-degree burn on the back of my arm, and I told (the restaurant), ‘I don’t have health insurance, can you help cover my hospital bills?’ and they just ignored and fired me.”

The shared experiences created a sense of community.

“It’s encouraging to come out to see other people’s faces to see that you’re not alone,” said Holden Cession, former intern for the Bayard Rustin Center and member of Cakalak Thunder, a drum corps that plays at rallies. “It’s not about numbers, it’s about people who are suffering because they don’t have enough money to take care of themselves or their families.

“It humanizes the struggle to make it much more personal.”

Ray Trapp, Guilford County commissioner for District 8, also came in support of the rally.

“I humbly stand with those who are asking to be paid for their work, to be paid a wage that allows them to provide them with their family, to seek affordable housing, affordable healthcare and live with the dignity that hardworking citizens should live with,” said Trapp at the rally.

“I humbly stand with those who bring billions of dollars into their places of employment while only to see the top executive salaries rise and rich shareholders get even richer.”

In August, the Greensboro City Council passed a plan to raise the minimum wage for city employees to $15 by 2020.

“It’s bad when we have people that are working 40 to 60 hours a week who can’t provide basic things for decent living,” said Trapp to The Guilfordian.

In response to demands, cities across the U.S., including Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle, have implemented plans to raise the minimum wage.

“This right here is just the beginning,” said Lisa Mack, High Point resident and activist. “The ones who have already won, they won so we won.

“Don’t let this be the end … (Big corporations are) waiting for us to get tired. They’re waiting for us to get tired of marching and holding up signs, but I’m not going to let that stop me from what’s getting ready to happen.”

To many, the Fight for $15 was more than a movement to raise the minimum wage.

“This movement is not about chaos,” said Mack. “It’s not about putting anybody out of work. It’s about taking care of our kids. It’s about having food on the table. It’s about being able to go to the doctor.

“It’s not just about winning the $15. It’s about a union, meaning collective bargaining rights, and coming together and standing on one thing that’s going to change the world.”