Hundreds of fast food and other low-wage workers gathered outside Oakland City Hall Tuesday evening demanding a higher minimum wage of $15 per hour. The demonstrations were part of a wider national campaign, Fight For 15, which has seen over 270 cities participating in similar protests.
Oakland’s demonstration was attended by members of over 15 organizations that advocate for the rights of low-wage workers. These include the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, Just Cause, Fight for $15, East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy (EBASE), Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and UNITE HERE.
According to Shonda Roberts, a representative from the East Bay Organizing Committee who was present yesterday, many of the fast food workers at the protest did not go to work to attend the protest.
Arnuflo De La Cruz, SEIU’s provisional officer, said the goal of the demonstrations to close the income gap go beyond raising the minimum wage. “$15 is really not the ultimate solution,” he said. “We have filed a ballot initiative to be put on the November 2016 ballot, and what this will do is not just raise the California minimum wage, but also provide all workers with six paid sick days.” His union represents over 70,000 workers in the Bay Area.
Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland’s vice mayor, said Tuesday’s demonstrations are also aimed at supporting workers’ right to join unions. “There have been many cases where workers have been harassed and fired or punished for unionizing,” she said. “We need to support card check neutrality, which gives workers the right to join a union without harassment, and we need all of the rights of workers to be respected.”
The minimum wage in Oakland is currently $12.25 and is the highest in the country right now.