There are multiple issues associated with the “Fight for 15.” The term “Fight for 15” refers to the recent movement to increase the minimum wage to $15.00. This is particularly true for those who work in the fast food industry, where the movement began. The movement has used non-violent techniques similar to those used by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King in the 1960s. The goals of the movement should be applauded. It is, without a doubt, apparent in America that too many people are at the working poverty level. They work, but can barely afford the basic necessities of life. Meanwhile, the people on Wall Street and the CEOs have managed to increase their rates of compensation to startling levels. The Occupy Wall Street Movement was a recognition of this social injustice. However, the idea of $15.00 an hour across the board is incorrect. A living wage should be emphasized. This differs significantly from region to region. In addition, why the concepts of Dr. King should be used, all of his points are not applicable. While many blacks do live in poverty, so do many whites. It is no longer an issue of just black against white; it is a greater social justice issue.
The labor movement has been a critical force since the late Nineteenth Century. Until this movement, individuals were forced to work obscene hours for pennies. Employees had little protections on the job, and many of the jobs were quite dangerous. The labor movement has worked to improve these conditions. They have done so, and should be applauded for the tremendous advances they have made for the working man. The middle class exists only because of the labor movement. It is important though to remember that the working class provides a tremendous benefit to society. Dr. King was correct when he wrote that all labor has dignity. It should be respected as such. A surgeon is important. The person who takes out the garbage from the OR is just as important. Both are necessary for the OR to function. One must remember this.
However, as discussed in the notes, there was no formula for the $15.00 an hour. It was a random figure. Furthermore, while $15.00 might be necessary in New York City, it is not necessary in smaller towns in the Middle West. As Luce examines, minimum wage is a formula that does not equate to covering basic living expenses. This is the reason for a living wage movement. A living wage movement will help differentiate between a random minimum wage and a wage that brings dignity to work by allowing a person to provide for a family based upon that work.
Dr. King wrote that black men were emasculated by sending their wives to work in the kitchen of white homes. This is not completely relevant. In reality, that was a different time in history. Most women work today. Furthermore, many families only have one parent. It is not an issue of emasculation of men. It is an issue of the destruction of the human soul that occurs when work is not valued. If a person labors all day and then cannot provide for the basic needs of himself or herself, it diminishes the worth of the individual. The living wage movement reflects this recognition. A random $15.00 does not. In reality, it might not be high enough in some parts of the country. However, other regions may result in a loss of jobs since this might be quite high for the region.
There are multiple issues to consider with the Fight for 15. The movement’s goals and methods should be applauded. The use of nonviolence to achieve a social justice program is always praise-worthy. A random figure though should not be used. A living wage should be calculated for the various regions.