By Chris Hart-Williams, Ignite NC Communications Fellow Spring ’14
#StudentsFor15 are turning out in solidarity with low-wage workers across the country, demanding living wage, right to a union, and dignity and respect on the job!
Workers in the Fight for $15 met for the 1st Charlotte People’s Power Assembly where they shared shared their stories that highlighted the struggle to demand living wages from the multi-million dollar corporations that employ them.
The Charlotte People’s Power Assembly is a monthly meeting space to build solidarity through trainings, dialogue, and collective strategy and mobilization. The first People’s Power Assembly happened on March 7 and focused on the economic justice and the “Fight for 15.”
Fast food workers, who are tired of working for poverty wages had time to share during the assembly.
One worker, Brittany, spoke of the realities facing today’s fast-food workers and the difficulties of covering basic needs such as food, rent, healthcare, and transportation in absence of a living wage. For Brittany, the April 15 strike is more than a day for low-wage workers, it’s a part of a movement that attends of the assembly hope to continue
This movement in large part depends on young people taking a stand and saying that economic injustice is not acceptable for their future.
People who work hard for a living should make enough to support themselves, their families, and be treated with dignity and respect.
Brittany shared that just the day before the assembly, she lost a family member, and her superior told her she couldn’t leave until she found someone to replace her.
“We are behind right now and we have to keep up,” Brittany said. “Economic injustice hasn’t died.”
Fast food and low wage workers are mostly adults with families. Just compensation and dignified treatment would strengthen communities across the state and allow struggling workers to provide themselves and their families with basic necessities.
Youth involved in the Black Lives Matter movement, students, and other community members were also at the assembly for dialogue and collectively strategized about what we can do to fight back together. What emerged was the need to mobilize in mass numbers to the April 15 national day of action for living wage. Tens of thousands of people across the country will be speaking out for better jobs and justice.
“Economic justice and the Fight for 15 is essential, and that’s what’s necessary,” said Ignite NC fellow Ajamuito Dillahunt. Dillahunt is a student who will join hundreds of other students to unite with workers on April 15 in Raleigh at Shaw University. “We need to be in solidarity with workers, who want to be paid for the work that they do”
Students, community members, workers from all over North Carolina, and the rest of the nation, are taking action to demand a future.
For young people who haven’t yet entered the workforce but will soon, the fight for economic justice is of grave concern. These injustices cannot continue, and voices like Dillahunt are important and need to be heard, loud and clear.
Today’s college graduates are set to be the most in debt. While their odds of landing a job that pays a living wage has not not increased they on average pay back around $33,000 in student-loan debt.
The low-wage workforce has gotten more highly educated in recent decades, 43 percent of low-wage workers have at least some college education, a degree, or even an advanced degree. With this reality, adjunct professors who are also making poverty wages and fighting employment insecurity are joining the fight for $15.
The Fight for $15 has become everyone’s fight: students, fast-food workers, home care workers, and adjunct faculty. Anyone who is concerned about economic justice, living wage, and right to a union will be taking the streets on April 15 to demand a better future for all of us.
Ignite NC fellows have a crucial role in this major mobilization. Fellows will be organizing on their campuses across NC to bring out over 500 students in solidarity with low-wage workers. Be sure to follow Ignite NC on Facebook, Twitter, and Website to get updates about how you can get to April 15 and make an impact.
Chris Hart-Williams is a senior at North Carolina State University. There he is studying political science. He currently serves as editor-in-chief of N.C. State’s Nubian Message and is a former staff writer of the student paper Technician. Chris received a certificate of appreciation from the state of NC while a communications intern at the Office of State Human Resources in Spring 2014. He also worked as an intern web contributor at WRAL News in the Fall of 2014.