The movement that is developing for a $15.00 minimum wage is very inspiring. It deserves the support of all working people. It also reminds me of when I was young and laboring to an older bricklayer who was good union man. One day he asked me. He was always asking me questions to increase my class consciousness. He asked me: "Tell me young fella how this comes about. They are always saying that the rich ones have to be allowed to make as much money as possible or they will not be motivated. But at the same time they are always saying that the poor and the working class need to be kept on the lowest possible wage to motivate them? What do you think about that?" That old dude was not so slow.
We hear all sorts of excuses not to pay the $15.00 minimum wage. Actually I think it should be $15.00 minimum or a $5.00 an hour wage increase which ever is the greater. This would mobilize wider sections. But I unconditionally support the struggle for the $15.00 minimum wage. But one of the excuses we hear comes from the small employers. They say they cannot afford $15.00, it would put them out of business they say. We have to answer this.
The small business people have many expenses besides wages. Rent in most cases, interest on money they owe on loans, heating and cooling, taxes, insurance, and on and on. But it is the wages that are targeted. The small business owners see the workers wages as the easiest way to cut their expenses. . They do not want to take on the banks, the insurance companies, the tax collectors and so on. This is a false and unfair approach and one that will backfire on the small business people themselves. They should unite with the low paid workers to fight for lower rents, lower taxes, lower insurance payments etc., and in this way pay the $15.00 an hour minimum wage.
Back in the 18.00's there was the great struggle for the 8 hour day. This struggle formed 8 hour day committees and built a national network of struggle. We should establish $15.00 an hour committees and link these together into a powerful network of direct action struggle. These would take up the issue not only of wages but also conditions on the job and health care.
At the same time this $15.00 an hour movement should look to the established trade union movement with its 12 million members. Every union member should be at their union local moving motions to hold meetings in the workplaces, in the unions at all levels for the $15.00 an hour minimum wage. In this way link the existing trade union membership with the $15.00 an hour movement whether their wage is above $15.00 an hour or not. The more they keep down the minimum wage the more the bosses will push down the wage of all workers, the more the workers push up the minimum wage the more the wage of all workers will be pushed up. The reason this would happen would be that a more powerful workers movement would be built and this would push the bosses onto the defensive and force them to hand over some of the trillions of dollars they have looted from workers and hidden away in the last decades.
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