The Fight for Fifteen: The Right Wage for a Working America
Combining history, economics, and commonsense political wisdom, The Fight for Fifteen makes a deeply informed case for a national $15/hour minimum wage as the only practical solution to reversing America’s decades-long slide toward becoming a low-wage nation.
Drawing both on new scholarship and on his extensive practical experiences organizing workers and grappling with inequality across the United States, David Rolf, president of SEIU 775—which waged the successful Seattle campaign—offers an accessible explanation of “middle out” economics, an emerging popular economic theory that suggests that the origins of prosperity in capitalist economies lie with workers and consumers, not investors and employers.
A blueprint for a different and hopeful American future, The Fight for Fifteen offers concrete tools, ideas, and inspiration for anyone interested in real change in our lifetimes.
Drivers’ expenses add up, with ride-service drivers spending an average of $965 a month on their car, gas, and insurance. On-demand services like Uber require all drivers to carry car insurance and verify that it is current, but obviously the checks aren’t comprehensive: a survey of on-demand drivers found that 8 percent of drivers said that they didn’t have insurance.71 This is a legal gray zone for drivers, passengers, and Uber—one of many. Being in the gray zone has risks for the business as
economic inequality,” in the words of journalist David Moburg. At the heart of these laws is the conviction that as a major player in the economy, government should use its buying power to support local families instead of driving down wages. “If taxpayers are ultimately paying the wages of contract employees anyway,” as Moburg says, “why not simply pay the employees a living wage directly?”23 This is a fiscal argument as well a moral one, because when businesses pay workers low wages, local
industries that will create more wealth than has been created in the history of human kind. Technology will dramatically improve the lives of almost all Americans and most people around the globe. And America will continue to be the world’s wealthiest nation with the most productive workers. That would have been an incredible, truly astounding, set of predictions, all of which, as it turns out, would have come true. But imagine that the speech continued: Of all of the new wealth our country
Which brings us to Seattle, and the minimum-wage fights of 2013 to 2014 that changed the conventional wisdom of what workers can do with the right timing, and the right alliances. 4 The Little City That Could Winning a $15 Wage in SeaTac Reverend Jan Bolerjack is a minister at the Riverton Park United Methodist Church in SeaTac, Washington. SeaTac is a small, working-class suburb of Seattle named after its own airport, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (Sea-Tac for short). Soon after she
discrimination, safety violations, and a lack of respect. Jet fueler Alex Popescu explained why he joined the Good Jobs effort: “Despite my qualifications and ability, I have been reduced to working for just above minimum wage. I feel that after serving and sacrificing for so long, it’s appalling that I have to choose between filling my gas tank or feeding my family.”34 Through the rest of 2012, thousands of airport workers marched and picketed; spoke at Port Commission meetings; and rallied with