More

Tens of thousands of workers are demanding higher wages and better treatment.

Workers are doing what they can to lift up themselves and their families.

Tens of thousands of workers are demanding higher wages and better treatment.
True
SEIU

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.


Image via The All-Nite Images/Flickr.

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."

There's Naquasia, leading a protest. Image via SEIU, used with permission.

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."

Image via SEIU, used with permission.

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."

Image via SEIU, used with permission.

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.

True

Davina Agudelo was born in Miami, Florida, but she grew up in Medellín, Colombia.

"I am so grateful for my upbringing in Colombia, surrounded by mountains and mango trees, and for my Colombian family," Agudelo says. "Colombia is the place where I learned what's truly essential in life." It's also where she found her passion for the arts.

While she was growing up, Colombia was going through a violent drug war, and Agudelo turned to literature, theater, singing, and creative writing as a refuge. "Journaling became a sacred practice, where I could leave on the page my dreams & longings as well as my joy and sadness," she says. "During those years, poetry came to me naturally. My grandfather was a poet and though I never met him, maybe there is a little bit of his love for poetry within me."

In 1998, when she left her home and everyone she loved and moved to California, the arts continued to be her solace and comfort. She got her bachelor's degree in theater arts before getting certified in journalism at UCLA. It was there she realized the need to create a media platform that highlighted the positive contributions of LatinX in the US.

"I know the power that storytelling and writing our own stories have and how creative writing can aid us in our own transformation."

In 2012, she started Alegría Magazine and it was a great success. Later, she refurbished a van into a mobile bookstore to celebrate Latin American and LatinX indie authors and poets, while also encouraging children's reading and writing in low-income communities across Southern California.

Keep Reading Show less
via Google and Pexels

A Medford, Oregon sushi restaurant tried to pull a fast one on its employees but it didn't get past the U.S. Department of Labor. The agency has recovered $280,124 in back pay from Misoya Bistro that will be split among 36 employees.

Federal investigators say that for the past two years, the restaurant paid its employees an hourly "tip wage" that was "significantly lower" than what they earned in tips.

"I think employers sometimes may think that because they pay the state minimum wage which is higher than the federal minimum wage, means that they can be involved in tips," Carrie Aguilar, district director for the Wage and Hour Division – Portland office, told NBC5. "That's just not the case. Tips should always go to the employees."

Keep Reading Show less