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Across the Country, Push for Higher Pay Spreads as Home Care Workers and Security Officers Call for $15/Hr
In Just Two Years, Fast Food Cooks and Cashiers Have Sparked Broad Movement to Lift Wages for Families Living on the Brink—8 Million Low-Wage Workers Have Seen Raises
Two years after 200 New York City fast-food workers walked off their jobs, sparking a nationwide movement for $15 and union rights, cooks and cashiers at McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Sonic and other major national chains went on strike Thursday in San Diego along with fast-food workers in more than 190 cities— the most ever.
Nationally, striking fast-food workers were joined for the first time by convenience store clerks and dollar-store workers in two-dozen cities. The Home Care Workers’ Fight for $15, which launched in September, more than tripled in size, reaching 19 cities from coast to coast including San Diego. Also Thursday, federally-contracted food service workers at a gigantic McDonald’s location at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC, went on strike, joining the call for $15/hour.
“Each month we struggle and I worry about where we will live next month,” said Emmanuel Wimer, a McDonald’s employee. Wimer earns $9 an hour and provides for his disabled mother, all while working to put himself through school. His father was deported when he was twelve.
In our first podcast our budget and infrastructure specialist, Kyra Greene, sits down with Angeli Hernandez, a member of the Mid-City Youth Council, to chat about the 3-year process where youth mobilized and worked with the city and community residents to build a Skate Park in City Heights. Angeli talks about the recent obstacles they've faced due to a small group of residents who've threatened to sue the city to prevent the construction of the park.
Angeli and Mid-City Youth Council worked with the Tony Hawk Foundation and Human Impact Partners to study the possible health effects of the Skate Park.
"The HIA predicts a skatepark would provide thousands of youth with more opportunity for exercise, social connection, and development, which lead to better health and well-being. The skatepark would also mean increased safety from crime in and around the park and fewer injuries for skateboarders who use it." Read the Executive Summary and Full Report.
You can also download the report here: http://www.humanimpact.org/news/just-released-the-health-effects-of-a-new-skatepark-in-san-diego-ca/
This particular project speaks to us for a few reasons. One of the key challenges in the urban core neighborhoods of San Diego is severe lack of green spaces, which has implications for individual and community health. In addition, finding funding outside the city coffers is a challenge especially in older neighborhoods with large number of low-income residents. Finally, in a time where politics are too often characterized by cynicism and apathy, this is a project where young San Diegans have poured over 3 years of energy into advocating for something that will make their community better for them and for the youth to come.
You can support Angeli and the Mid-City Youth Council in their quest to get a skate park in City Heights by attending the City Heights Recreational Council meeting at 6:30pm Tuesday, November 18, at the City Heights Rec Center.
You can also email and/or call your council representative to let them know that you want to support this project and want to see a skate park for the youth of this city.
The phrase “living in poverty” is one of those shorthand terms that rolls easily off the tongues of news anchors and politicians before they turn to the next topic. We all tend to glaze over the full meaning of the phrase, the grinding day-to-day misery of hunger, worry, discomfort, exhaustion and despair.
In the City of San Diego, the proportion and number of people living in poverty edged up in 2013. It should have gone down. Instead, 7,000 more people in the city live in poverty now, in addition to the 202,000 who remain in that dire situation from the previous year.
Statistically, it was a small increase, nothing drastic. When CPI reported it last month in an analysis of new data from the U.S. Census Bureau, the main response from local media and others was a yawn.
But consider what that statistic means. We are supposedly four years into a recovery from the national recession. Local industry has indeed recovered; the San Diego region’s economic output has rebounded above pre-recession levels. People are working hard and companies are making money. But wages, here as elsewhere, have not kept up. The recovery in profits is not being shared with the people doing much of the work.
Local strikers among thousands walking off their jobs in 150 cities as movement intensifies
Nine San Diego fast-food workers and two community supporters were arrested Thursday morning as part of a national strike calling for wages of $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation.
Dozens of striking workers from 19 restaurants gathered in City Heights, along with about 300 supporters, for a peaceful demonstration in front of a McDonald’s, a Burger King, and a Jack in the Box. They rallied at the intersection over Interstate 15, briefly blocking traffic. The workers were arrested for civil disobedience after they sat in the middle of the intersection, linking arms and chanting “We believe that we will win.”
Before he was arrested, McDonald’s worker Jay Ames said he was willing to make that sacrifice for a better future for himself and his coworkers. “I’m tired of making $9 an hour. I can’t live off it. None of us can. I’m tired of being afraid I might be homeless because I can’t afford the rent here.”
Marie Kaio, a Burger King employee for 35 years, also was arrested. She said by the end of each month she has to survive on bologna sandwiches and food from churches and her family. “I love my job and I always welcome people with a smile, but $9 an hour isn’t enough,” Kaio said at a 6 a.m. rally. “I’m going out on strike because I deserve $15 and a union.”
All 11 arrested were released within a few hours. Here is a short CPI video showing the action and arrests:
The action was part of a national day of strikes and civil disobedience in 150 cities from coast to coast. Two years after the fast-food “Fight for $15” movement began in New York City, President Obama on Monday praised “fast-food workers organizing to lift wages so they can provide for their families with pride and dignity.”
On August 18, a super-majority of the San Diego City Council overrode a mayoral veto restoring the new Earned Sick Leave-Minimum Wage Ordinance. Now, paid petitioners are trying to repeal the measure. Their deceptive tactics have been documented.
The passing of the ordinance makes San Diego the largest city in the country to give its workers a raise and require employers to allow workers to earn up to five sick days a year. The measure is set to take effect January 1, 2015, unless the paid petitioners win. Area businesses funded by out-of-town corporate interests are trying to overturn this widely supported Ordinance by sending OUT-OF-TOWN paid signature-gathers into the streets with a petition to overturn it.