Across the country today, fast food workers are walking off the job to show their support of increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour. The economic justice campaign, known as “Fight for $15,” has been described as the “largest-ever mobilization of underpaid workers,” with rallies taking place in over 200 cities. In Boston, #WageAction supporters gathered at the Harvard Square MBTA stop to exchange personal anecdotes about the reality of living on a minimum wage.
Sabrina, a worker at the Harvard Square Chipotle, Boston Logan airport and a Health Aid company, shared her struggles with the crowd of Fight for $15 supporters. In her speech, she described working three jobs under the minimum wage, while supporting her mother in hospital and her sister. “When my mom is in the hospital, I’m there for her. I’m always saving my family’s life, and I’m tired of struggling. I want to be home. I want to only have to work one job.” An employee at the Harvard Square Chipotle, she told the crowd to stop by and say hello.
Joining the fast food workers were members of the Harvard Student Labor Action Movement, Harvard College Democrats, HLS Labor and Employment Action Project, Act on a Dream, Black Students Association, Progressive Jewish Alliance, Fuerza Latina and Divest Harvard.
Among these supporters was Harvard student and Fight for $15 supporter Henry Gomory. He shared his perceptions of the rally with HPR. “What resonated with me was hearing over and over again the stories of people who are working two or three jobs—saving every penny they can, but still have to choose between paying rent and buying food.”
“These stories made me feel emotionally something I knew intellectually: that you can’t survive making minimum wage in Boston or almost anywhere else, and you certainly can’t live the secure, comfortable life that everyone deserves.”
“The idea that people are poor in this country due to lack of effort is just absurd. Deeply entrenched systematic forces make it all but impossible to climb out of poverty for huge swathes of the population, no matter how hard they work.”
In June 2014, Massachusetts enacted a new minimum wage law, raising the hourly rate from $8 to $11 over the next few years. Many critics, including members of #WageAction, have argued that this increase does not amount to a living wage.
Image credits: Camille Schmidt