Workers are doing what they can to lift up themselves and their families.
Something important is happening on April 14, 2016, and we don't mean National Dolphin Day (although that's pretty cool, too).
Workers across the globe are joining together to demand a living wage and the right to unionize.
The idea is pretty simple: that everybody who works should be paid enough to afford their basic needs and that it's wrong that profitable corporations like McDonald's choose to pay people so little that they are trapped in poverty.
What started as a movement of a couple hundred fast-food workers in November 2012 has gained tremendous momentum — not only across the country, but across the globe. It's expanded from fast-food workers to include child care, health care, higher education, and numerous other workers. Tens of thousands of workers are expected to turn out in hundreds of protests on April 14, 2016.
In advance of what the Fight for $15 is calling its "biggest ever" day of strikes, here are three inspiring things about the fight so far.
1. It's winning.
On April 4, 2016, the governors of California and New York signed bills establishing a minimum wage of $15 per hour in their states. That means raises for 9 million workers. That's HUGE.
"What we’re doing is working. We’re really making this happen," Naquasia LeGrand, one of the workers who has been part of the movement since the beginning, told Upworthy. She participated in the first walkout on November 29, 2012, and has since become a face of the movement, organizing flash strikes and even appearing on "The Colbert Report."
She recalls the first meeting she attended and what it was that convinced her to join. "It was just inspiring that we were willing to to stand up straight and tall and have our voices be heard. From there, I knew this is where I need to be to make a difference in our country."
2. It's only possible because people are banding together.
In a country that's been feeling more and more divided, it can be easy to look past the instances of people joining together. But the Fight for $15 is a pretty incredible reminder that when people work together, change happens.
As LeGrand puts it, "It made me feel that the only way Americans can survive in America is that we stick together to keep our country strong. These corporations try to divide us in so many different ways. ... We’re all in the same boat. We’re all struggling to take care of our families, to live a better life, to save money for our future."
In a delightful interview with Stephen Colbert, LeGrand explained why it's important to her to organize:
"Me as my one voice can't go to my manager and be like, 'Listen, I want these set days ... this is how much money I want' — no, I have to come with a team, I have to come with my coworkers and other workers around the country and let them know it's not just me who's going through this, it's all of us going through this."
3. It's about more than wages.
LeGrand enjoys and gets satisfaction from her job and goes out of her way to be a good employee. In return, the corporations she's worked for — well, they don't return the favor. The raise LeGrand received this year of just 15 cents, bringing her total wages to $8.15 an hour, only drove this point home for her.
"I enjoy working at my job and serving people and being able to please a customer knowing that I got their order right or their food was delicious or my service was so great they’re coming back again. I go out of my way for McDonald's and my customers, and they won’t go out of their way for me. ... A 15 cent raise tells you right there, McDonald's, tells you, they don’t care about their workers."
In addition to making it very difficult for workers to support themselves and their families, that undervaluing takes an emotional toll.
"With workers who work for so long for so little, we feel like that’s it. Like that’s what we settle for. That this is what we deserve. That we deserve $7.25," she said.
That's a feeling LeGrand doesn't want her son, who turned one in January, to ever know.
When asked about the jobs she envisions for her son, who, LeGrand says, may someday work at McDonald's or KFC given the growth in fast food jobs and stagnation in middle- and high-wage jobs, she said, "I will hope they offer better pay and of course benefits, paid sick days, paid vacation days. This is what I’m fighting for now so my son don’t have to know how it is to struggle so much for what they call a minimum wage job or low-wage job."
LeGrand is joining thousands of other low-wage workers in walkouts across the country on April 14, 2016.
She has spent almost four years fighting this fight and says she'll spend the next four years doing the same if that's what it takes. We really hope it doesn't take that long.