Fight for $15 Protest: Is It Really That Painful to Give Workers a Livable Wage?

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PHOTO: MARIA INÉS TARACENA
  • Photo: Maria Inés Taracena

Workers from Tucson and  around the country joined voices today to demand for dignified and livable wages. More specifically: for every state to raise minimum wage to $15 an hour, because it is impossible to stay afloat with some of the salaries we gotta deal with.

The Fight for $15 protest in the Old Pueblo gathered about 100 people. It got larger once the march—which started out in the corner of Campbell Avenue and Speedway Boulevard, near the McDonald's—arrived to the University of Arizona. Today's rally was a fusion of fast-food workers and adjunct and non-tenure faculty from both the UA and Pima Community College.

Focusing on the fast-food stats, their average salary (in Tucson) is $8.68/hour and, for the most part, they have a 24 hours a week limit to work, which means they make about $10,800 a year. 

Low wages also mean more expenses for the state—getting food stamps costs lots of money, so why not just give people a significant raise?
From a fact sheet emailed to me by a Mariah Quinn, one of the many people who helped organized today's event:
A recent study by researchers at the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education found that in Arizona, low wages in the fast food industry cost the state $144 million annually in public assistance costs. v The fast food industry costs American taxpayers nearly $7 billion annually because its jobs pay such low wages that 52 percent of fast food workers—even those who work full time— are forced to enroll their families in public assistance programs, compared to 25 percent of the
workforce as a whole.

According to the Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator, a worker with one child working full time in the Tucson metro area would have to earn $22.14 per hour to meet her family’s basic expenses.
All of this while the CEOs and upper level entities in the hierarchy make hundreds of thousands and millions in revenue.
According to a 2012 study by the National Employment Law Project (NELP), low wage jobs comprised 21% of recession job losses but 58% of recovery job growth, whereas mid wage jobs made up 60% of recession job losses but only 22% of recovery job growth.

The big fast food chains are profitable and have recovered from the recession, reporting higher revenues, fatter operating margins and more cash than before the financial crisis.ix For example, McDonald’s made $5.46 billion in profits in 2012, a 27% increase in profits over 5 years.
It would take a minimum-wage full-time worker more than 930 years to earn as much as the YUM! Brands CEO made in 2012. Meanwhile, Wendy’s paid its CEO nearly as much as it made in profits in 2012. 
Eventually, everyone who makes less than $15 an hour needs to start making more noise. 

Here are some photos I took throughout the march.

PHOTO: MARIA INÉS TARACENA
  • Photo: Maria Inés Taracena

PHOTO: MARIA INÉS TARACENA
  • Photo: Maria Inés Taracena

PHOTO: MARIA INÉS TARACENA
  • Photo: Maria Inés Taracena

PHOTO: MARIA INÉS TARACENA
  • Photo: Maria Inés Taracena


PHOTO: MARIA INÉS TARACENA
  • Photo: Maria Inés Taracena


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This dude was trying to take a selfie. - PHOTO: MARIA INÉS TARACENA
  • Photo: Maria Inés Taracena
  • This dude was trying to take a selfie.

PHOTO: MARIA INÉS TARACENA
  • Photo: Maria Inés Taracena

PHOTO: MARIA INÉS TARACENA
  • Photo: Maria Inés Taracena

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