News & Commentary

April 15, 2015

Thousands of workers are rallying today in over 200 cities—some even walking off the job—to demand a higher minimum wage. The “Fight for Fifteen” campaign sought to mobilize on Tax Day to “highlight [its] complaint that many workers must rely on public assistance,” according to Reuters. Sizeable protests have already started in Boston, where last year the Massachusetts Legislature approved a three-step increase in the minimum wage to a nation-leading $11/hour. According to Politico, some lawmakers hope to capitalize on the renewed attention, with the Congressional Progressive Caucus and Good Jobs Nation holding a forum today on “A Good Jobs Strategy for the Low Wage Economy.”

Yet Lydia DePillis reports that not everyone is happy with the SEIU’s strategy: one common complaint is that the campaign fails to actually increase union membership, given its stated purpose of supporting un-unionized workers. According to DePillis, sources close to the United Food and Commercial Workers say that their union is scaling back its sponsorship of the OUR Wal-Mart campaign, a similar effort to improve conditions among Wal-Mart employees. While noting the underlying strategy for broad-based campaigns—to increase leverage at the bargaining table by helping to set wage norms across an entire industry—she points out that union’s ability to contribute to strategies targeted at non-members (in industries that many warn will be difficult to unionize) may increasingly depend on their financial capabilities to do so.

The New York Times covers the impact of the minimum wage issue on Hillary Clinton’s campaign, which might force her to “come up with a number” about her ideal wage increase. The article notes the increased urgency of the issue on the national scene, given both the popular energy around the movement, the shrinking opposition even among economists in the business world, and the softening of some Republican politicians on the issue.

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