low-wage

The Fight for $15 movement has long been one of the largest wage protest movements in American history, and it’s had an amazing impact on low-wage workers.

The National Employment Law Project recently announced that 22 million low-wage workers across America have seen wages rise a collective $68 billion since 2012. That’s more than fourteen times the scale of the last federal minimum wage increase. 70 percent of that is due to $15 minimum wage laws.

“Thanks to the movement, income inequality and flagging paychecks are now among the most urgent economic issues of our time and a $15 minimum wage is now a widely accepted benchmark,” said the study. “It is a key part of the platform of one of the major political parties, and lawmakers are planning to introduce a $15 dollar federal minimum wage bill in the first week of the 116th Congress.”

And as cities implement these laws, their economies thrived. Far from hemorrhaging jobs (which is the usual talking point against wage hikes), the University of California-Berkeley found that the job market remained stable while workers saw a welcome boost to their paychecks.

That isn’t to say Republicans haven’t been fighting tooth and nail. In Michigan, Republicans passed a minimum wage increase only to keep it off the November ballot, then gutted it in the first days of their lame-duck session.

States have also fought against city minimum wage hikes. NELP’s study cited 119,500 low-wage workers who would’ve been included in the totals if not for states that blocked local wages. Alabama has been fighting Birmingham in courts over that city’s wage. Missouri also preempted the minimum wage increase in Kansas City.

Fight for $15 isn’t just an effort to raise the wages of the poorest Americans, the campaign has also taken a role in the larger campaign for treating workers with respect. Including supporting the National Cheesburger Day protests against sexual harassment of food service employees.

 

Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.

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