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.

via Travis Akers / Twitter

A tweet thread by Travis Akers, a Navy Lieutenant with 17 years of service, is going viral because it shows just how sweet children can be and also points to an overlooked issue facing military families.

In the early morning of April 12, Akers tweeted a photo of himself and his seven-year-old son Tanner who he affectionately calls "Munchie." Akers was moved because his son set his alarm clock so he could get up early enough to hand him a pocket full of Legos before work.

Tanner wanted to be sure his father had something to play with at the Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, Florida. "This was my daily morning trip to base, departing my house at six am for work," Akers told Upworthy.

Keep Reading Show less
Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less