By Daly Tongren
Roosevelt University students and faculty participated in a national day of protest against the current minimum wage on Wednesday, April 15 in Chicago.
They marched in solidarity with minimum wage workers in the Fight for $15 campaign, which seeks to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25.
“Workers chose tax day, 4/15, to highlight their demand for $15 an hour and to call on profitable corporations to stop paying workers wages so low that they can’t afford basic needs without taxpayers’ help through public assistance programs like food stamps,” a press release for the Fight for 15 reported on March 31.
RISE led students through a rented bus and the CTA to the rally, which began at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
Students on the bus to the rally shared their personal experiences and motivations behind confronting the minimum wage issue head-on.
“I believe that if you are working a full-time job, you don’t deserve to live in poverty and do deserve a livable wage,” said Gianna Chacon, co-coordinator of RISE.
Upon arriving to the UIC campus, Roosevelt students and faculty joined in marching, with several thousand other protesters who marched for organizations and unions across the city.
Chants of “Say it til they got it, people over profit” and “What do we want, 15; when do we want it, now” echoed throughout the streets, as the mass of protesters raised their voices, held signs and banged drums in support of the Fight for 15 cause.
The Fight for 15 campaign began in 2012, according to its website, when fast food workers in New York City went on strike against their low wages. Since then, organizers of Fight for 15
have centered the national conversation, based around inequality, toward low-paying jobs in the airport, home care and academic industries.
“Fight for 15 is so much bigger than anyone anticipates its going to be, and economic inequality is so tied into everything else we’re fighting for,” said Luke Dobbs, a RISE organizer.
The April 15 day of action was an international event, inciting reports from major news sources, such as the BBC and CNN about cities across the nation who took part in the protests against low wages and union restrictions.
Roosevelt students marched with the Chicago crowds from UIC back to the Loop, making stops outside of McDonald’s’ restaurants, which is one of the low-wage paying corporations that Fight for 15 has focused its efforts on changing. The fast food industry is the campaign’s major target audience.
“You should not work full-time to be poor,” said Erica Nanton, a RISE member.