“Fight for 15” Wage Movement.
A social movement can be generalized and
defined as simply any group action that is determined towards the same
objective. The society’s movement can be
described by scholars as a structural organization that belongs to the
oppressed that lays strategies that can empower the less advantaged in the
society in denying and raising an effective challenge to the more powerful and
elite groups in the society that is meant to achieve a course (Tinah,
2011). These groups, depending on the course,
are sometimes informal, large and small crowds of people coming together to
push for what they feel is against them or their lifestyles. These
organizations mostly focus on a specific problem or issue.
The “Fight for 15” Wage Movement is
one of the recent well planned and organized the social movement that stayed to
achieve its course. The low-wage workers in the US of all sorts came together to
the streets of several US cities in 2015 during the annual Tax Day to form this
movement as they protested and demanded a minimum wage per hour scale to be $15
from the previous minimum wage per hour which oppressed them both financially
hence resulting in a poor living lifestyle. With the movement’s impromptu rise,
several workers walked off from their jobs in almost every city in the US.
Some analysts estimate that over 50,000
low earning workers walked off from their job positions due to displeasure and
favorable working environments they went through. This had a great impact on
the US economy, and this was reflected in US stock’s exchange where its annual
exchange report greatly dropped by almost 5%. Such low productivity in the US
annual exchange had never been experienced before since the late 1960s when the
American economy was undergoing evolution (Innes, 2009).
In this study, we
are going to use the “fight for 15” movement to discuss various issues that
result from such social movements in the society. The paper will highlight on
four major parts that include;
In this part of this
paper, we want to answer some questions about the movement and its intended
purpose in benefiting the low-wage working class in the US. With this context,
the movement was to address a wide range of issues that range from the
political aspect, economic aspect, social lifestyle and even economic
injustices that have hurt the minority as their minimum wage per hour was far
below as $5 which can’t meet their daily basics, hence resulting to a low
economy in the US. This happened concurrently even after the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) had reached an agreement with the US government to raise
the number of grants and donations towards the low working class not only in
the US but also across the World.
The fight for 15 movements became a success as several low
working-class communities in the US joined hands to protest and demand this pay
rise. Some of these groups include; child care providers within the US
homesteads, fast food workers, and vendors, some low wage-earning Airport
workers etc. Also, it’s good to highlight the Service Employees International
Union (SEIU) by organizing the protest and the campaign against low pay.
For a nation to be successful in both economic
and health sector, then the government should lay down a firm foundation
towards healthcare and invest largely in this sector. With better and
affordable health care then the nation’s GDP productivity stands a better
chance to prosper (Snow & Sarah, 2004). This boosts the economic growth as
its one of the America’s economic strategic plan to foster its economy.
However, the elite class in the society also facilitated
this movement to be a success (James, 2013). Schools and Colleges played a key
role in educating American people and the society at large about their rights
and this made the movement even stronger as people knew their rights and had
had to fight for them at whatever cost.
In this section, we are going to try to understand and
contemplate on how the movement started and what exactly happened prior to this
movement. First, I learned about the movement when one of my close friends who
was working at the two McDonald’s restaurants tipped me about the wage bracket
and wrangles between workers and the employers in that restaurants and many
other neighborhoods. However, when this
“fight for 15” movement emerged no one thought it would be that phenomenal given
that several other movements of the kind had been planned before and ended up
being a show off event to the organizers, that resulted in nothing to benefit
low working class that is deemed the minority class in the US. Contrary to
obvious expectations amongst the majority, this one “fight for 15” movement
proved to be one of the greatest social movements in the US as it radically
changed the welfare of the minority (Routledge & Seeters, 2014).
As a result of the movement, healthcare and invention of
unions have been taken seriously and even the low working class can have
holiday leaves and maternity leaves as compared to the past when no one cared
about their welfare and working conditions. This has helped families grow and
their healthcare is given a priority. President Obama tried everything possible
to make the working environment of all sorts of life in the US to be affordable
mostly through his “Obamacare” campaign that provided cheap and available
health care program and self-health insurance.
To push the agenda forward, the media also played a major
role in informing the American citizens, mostly the low working class, about
the Movement’s agenda and determination towards achieving better healthcare, a
good pay rise and even the organizers used the media to inform the protestors
about the necessity of the Unions which would take care of their Working
environment and basics. This movement
was generally for everyone who had the love of the nation at heart, regardless
of the gender, economic class, age etc. All groups of people rose up against
the discrimination posed by the employers in over 200 cities within the US to
undermine the lowly generating income fellows. They were all on a course that
could lead them to the “promised land” free from underpayment, with better
healthcare and working environment.
Even if I never participated in the movement, I always feel
proud for both the forthcoming and already anticipated outcomes like the
formation of Unions to cater for the Minority working group that they can use
to channel their grievances and opinions through.
In this section, I wanted to have an extensive overview
about the fight for $ 15 movement and its long-term objective and goal by
engaging an informant, who in this context is
anonymous for some reasons,
who took part in the protests and with a detailed information on the social
movements across the globe and with different political-ideological
The interview was purely an ethnographic interview. This has been
the main source of data collection by the cultural anthropologists for the
longest time now as its convenient to engage an informant in a freer way to
express himself/herself in what is termed in this paper herein as “participant
observation”. This kind of interview requires that the informant should be a
resident of that community of discussion of up to 10 years, but this proved not
to be feasible due to class work date restrictions and hence it was advisable
to engage an informant who is well informed about the “fight for 15 movement”.
In the interview, I
tried to be more of a non-directive interviewer by asking the informant
questions about what he thought about the movement’s impact both for the low
earning class and the economic outcome at large in the US. The informant
frequently based his arguments on both the good and bad side of the impacts of
the “fight for 15” movements not only within the US but also across the
neighboring countries and the world at large. He argued that when workers give
their best to the society, then the outcome should be a mandatory nothing less
than the best. For instance, protestors at Chicago carried boards saying, “we
are worth more” and others saying, “we work hard but payments are like
slavery”. This clearly shows the root to the core. Workers kept giving their
all, but still got underpay. Even the $10.10 pay rise that Obama pushed for,
didn’t cater for the basic needs of the low-income class. Clearly, with the
American economy, $10 wage per hour isn’t adequate to even raise a family hence
the desire for more.
concerning the economic situation, the informant based his argument on the
long-term positive socio-economic impact of the movement. With frequently using
more of a non-directive
approach to ask the informant about his opinions about the movement like,
“Tell me a little bit about what you think this movement stands for the
less earning class in the society and the American prestige at large in terms
of the job market for its citizen”. This approach worked to the best as
the informant enjoyed the topic and becoming talkative and willingly
participating in the conversation hence enabling me to learn more about the
fight for $15 movement. One of the things I learned is that for the longest
time in the American history the poor i.e. the minority like the
Africa-Americans, Hispania’s, Muslims etc. have been working under harsh
environments without a major concern from the federal government till when the
Obama government took over power.
Afterwards, the minority started feeling
the impact on their social life and even economic life as the Obama government
pushed for an agenda that all American is the same and should be made to feel
so as all are entitled to belong to the United States. No race or religious
background was stronger than the other within the US and therefore all people
should be given equal opportunity to make America great again both economically
Most social movements don’t require any form of weapon or
language to steer forward their agenda. However, the leader’s influence proves
to be key towards achieving their major objective irrespective of the
cumbersomeness and challenges the movement face (Temelini, 2013). The American
“fight for a $15 minimum wage per hour” movement can only be described as
“BIG and WELL EXECUTED”, with the aide and help of the economic
strategists representing the minority like Steven Greenhouse, the
minority agenda and grievances had a greater channel to reach relevant
authorities that prompted immediate action from both the US government and the
stakeholders at large. However, it’s good to note that not all grievances that
were channeled through the movement have been solved yet as some of them proved
to be difficult. For instance, the $15 minimum wage demand per hour is not
possible for most of the stakeholders as it can hurt their business hence the
necessity for getting automation in the recent times to avoid creating less
employment as a result of high wage payments. But still, within the frame line
of the next 10 or so years, the American economy will be on the better heights
to meet the minimum wage demands for its citizens.
In conclusion, I can
make an argument of the moral obligation of getting involved in this kind of
social movements by using Joshua Greene’s concept of “Deep
Pragmatism”. Evolution depends on our passions, our readily available
systems to solve disputes that we face every day. He argues that with this kind
of attitude, we can then put to an end the challenges that we face and solve
them amicably with a lasting solution.
argues that morality is fundamental to achieving this goal. Enforced
cooperation like social movements can only be effective if everyone is pulling
the string right towards that goal (Mario,
1992). Otherwise, it can prove to be
difficult if unity amongst the participants is not paramount. Therefore, for a
social movement to achieve its purpose then people must come together and pull
together regardless of their social differences and work towards achieving the
common end result.
Literally in several
parts of the world not only in the United States but also across the world, the
minority of its population feel oppressed economically and denied their working
rights, political and even spiritual aspects of their lives and hence they end
up creating social movements to address their grievances (Routledge
& Seeters, 2014). These movements have proved to be phenomenal in
countries like Afghanistan, Libya and most recently Zimbabwe.
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