Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Fight For

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Fight For

Article excerpt

A year away from the 2016 presidential election, US fast-food workers have launched a nationwide campaign Tuesday to demand a $15 national minimum wage along with union rights.

Supporters of the Fight for $15 campaign say Tuesday's protest in New York will reverberate through rallies in 500 cities nationwide, by workers throughout low-paying industries. But beyond this week's protests, advocates hope to begin a yearlong campaign to prove their political importance in the 2016 election.

The Fight for $15 is funded by the Service Employees International Union, which represents 1.5 million workers, and the issue has captured the support of more than 48 million potential voters who support a $15 minimum wage. The campaign describes their low-paid workers as "a voting bloc that can no longer be ignored."

"These low-wage workers are really interested in going out to the polls and supporting a candidate. This demographic is up for grabs," Yannet Lathrop, a researcher and policy analyst at the National Employment Law Project, told The Christian Science Monitor during a phone interview Tuesday. "This is a section of the electorate that wants to be a part of the 2016 election."

The problem? These workers typically don't vote.

A July 2015 report by the US Census suggests the percentage of Americans participating in elections has a direct correlation with annual income, with the richest Americans most likely to vote. The two groups with the lowest voter turnouts were those with incomes under $10,000 and those with incomes under $14,999, at 24.5 percent and 30.1 percent respectively.

And according to a National Employment Law Project survey, 42 percent of America's workers are paid less than $15 an hour, proving these minimum wage advocates could be a force to be reckoned with - that is, if they can be persuaded to vote.

Among the workers surveyed who were not registered to vote, 69 percent said they would be more likely to register if there was a presidential candidate who guaranteed a $15 minimum wage and union rights. …

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