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Fast food employees, domestic workers, adjunct profs & more ‘fight for $15′

gif of map showing spread of protestsThe battle for a wage increase to $15 for America’s low-wage workers has built some impressive momentum over the last few years. Since the first strike by NYC fast food workers in 2012, the movement has spread to other cities across the country and expanded to include other workers. Today, the Fight for 15 campaign is uniting “fast food cashiers and cooks, retail employees, child care workers, adjunct professors, home care providers, college students, airport workers, and all of us who believe they deserve better” to demand a livable wage.

From the start, it’s been a vitally important fight for women, who make up two thirds of fast food workers. They are disproportionately women of color and many are the main earners in their families. Women also make up the majority of adjuncts and the overwhelming majority of the home-care and child-care workers who have also joined the fight. As Sarah Jaffe notes, “According to a new report from the National Employment Law Project (NELP), women are 54.7 percent of those who make under $15 an hour—and the sub-$15 workforce is a full 42 percent of the overall U.S. workforce.” Indeed, two thirds of all minimum wage workers are women, and estimates suggest that even more modestly increasing wages by raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would close about 5 percent of the gender wage gap.

Since nearly half of the US workforce receives a wage from their employer that isn’t actually enough to live on, it’s no surprise that many of these workers rely on public assistance to make up the difference. As a new analysis from the Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education, almost three quarters of the people helped by programs geared to the poor are members of a family headed by a worker. About 48 percent of home health care workers, 46 percent of child care workers, and 52 percent of fast-food workers are on public assistance. “Taxpayers are providing not only support to the poor but also, in effect, a huge subsidy for employers of low-wage workers, from giants like McDonald’s and Walmart to mom-and-pop businesses.”

A livable wage for everyone in this country is one of the most important feminist goals of our time, and the Fight for 15 protests have already helped spur city and state-level increases in the minimum wage. Do your part to show your support for this battle and go here to find a rally near you.

Header image credit: Fight for 15

St. Paul, MN

Maya Dusenbery is executive director in charge of editorial at Feministing. She is the author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick (HarperOne, March 2018). She has been a fellow at Mother Jones magazine and a columnist at Pacific Standard magazine. Her work has appeared in publications like,, Bitch Magazine, as well as the anthology The Feminist Utopia Project. Before become a full-time journalist, she worked at the National Institute for Reproductive Health. A Minnesota native, she received her B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. After living in Brooklyn, Oakland, and Atlanta, she is currently based in the Twin Cities.

Maya Dusenbery is an executive director of Feministing and author of the forthcoming book Doing Harm on sexism in medicine.

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