Yesterday, the governor of New York announced his support of the recommendation to raise fast food workers wages to $15 per hour. This huge victory for the city’s working class can only be explained by the movement of low-wage workers that has taken the country by storm over the last several years.
Three years ago, people would have laughed at the idea of a $15 minimum wage. That has all changed by the “Fight for $15,” a movement initiated by fast-food workers that has grown to include all low-wage workers.
Cooking, cleaning, serving and feeding the thousands of people who buy fast food everyday is not a small order. The masses of fast-food workers clock on day-in and day-out to produce the food that feeds the city. Yet for decades their work as been undervalued, underpaid and exploited.
The reality is that workers produce not just the food that feeds millions but all of society’s wealth. Workers are the ones that run the factories, schools and health care facilities. Workers in the Fight for $15 have realized their work is important and valuable and that they deserve a living wage, and other people have realized this too.
The greedy corporate 1%ers themselves who have oppressed the fast-food workers know the value of the workers very well. After all, it’s the workers who provide these capitalist owners their billions of dollars of revenue each year. The average wage of the fast-food corporate CEO is $11,000 per hour. Disgustingly, that means in two hours a CEO can make roughly as much as the average fast-food worker makes in one year.
What do the corporate owners and CEO’s really produce though? They produce nothing in relation to the workers who work fast non-stop in hot kitchens over burners meeting the demands of hungry customers under the dictate of demanding owners.
The owners relax and produce nothing for this society. They only exploit the labor of fast-food workers and hold those earnings greedily to themselves. Yet they are the ones who have been making the big money while workers suffer just to survive. This is what the workers’ movement is fighting back against.
The low-wage workers’ movement won a huge victory Wednesday by securing a pathway to $15. Under the new proposed plan, that is likely to be implemented, New York City fast-food workers will earn $15 per hour by 2018 (a $1.50 increase per year). The rest of the fast-food workers throughout the state will make $15 by 2022.
It must be understood that this victory is a product of the people and the movement, not Governor Cuomo nor any other politician taking center stage in the media today. It was the workers who realized the need for struggle, formulated demands and organized a movement.
This is the power of the working class being realized before our eyes. With unity and militancy, the workers can achieve anything. It’s for these reasons that the movement must not let up.
Millions of oppressed working people remain throughout the country with no living wage and no protections. The valiant New York workers have paved the way for victory and now we must continue the struggle. Until the ultimate liberation of all workers, we must demand: “$15 and a union” and “All power to the workers!”