Tens of thousands of fast food and retail workers across the United States are on strike today, demanding $US15 an hour pay - more than double the federal minimum of $US 7.25 an hour. Congress last voted to raise the minimum wage in 2007. Trish Kahle is on strike in Chicago.
Tomorrow, (Fri, August 30) I’m striking for the third time since April as a part of the growing movement of low-wage workers demanding better pay, treatment, and working conditions.
But this struggle is about so much more than what happens inside the wall of my workplace, or any workplace. As some of the most vulnerable workers in the United States, hundreds of us are standing up, yes, against harassment from our bosses and poverty wages, but also against a system determined to keep us in a permanent underclass–and then blame us for it.
So tomorrow, as the strike spreads from seven cities to thirty-eight, I’m striking for paid sick days, and I’m striking because we live in a country that allows the poor to die because they can’t afford healthcare.
I’m striking against sexual harassment at work, and I’m striking because that harassment is possible because we live in a country where most rapes go unreported, victims are blamed for assault, and the media laments the “ruined lives” of rapists.
I’m striking against racism at work, which keeps people of colour in the most menial jobs, with the lowest pay. And I’m striking because racism devalues the lives of people of colour in so many ways, because another head of that racist hydra killed Trayvon Martin, Troy Davis, Ramarley Graham, Rekia Boyd, Alan Blueford, Oscar Grant, Kenneth Chamberlain, and so many others.
I’m striking for a living wage, and I’m striking for a welfare system that cares for everyone, whether they can work or not.
I’m striking in solidarity with my undocumented sisters and brothers, whose lives are even more precarious than mine, and I’m striking because no human being is illegal. The borders are the crime, and we, as workers can crush them.
I’m striking against the discrimination against LGBTQ workers, who are passed up for raises and promotions, and I’m striking for a trans-inclusive ENDA.
I’m striking because I want a union, and I want contract protections. I’m standing up for my rights because I know people before me died to secure them. I’m striking because right-to-work laws are taking away our rights as workers nationwide, and the tide must be turned. I’m striking because I want freedom, and I know the only way to win individual freedom is to struggle together.
I’m striking against retaliation, against intimidation–at work or in the street. I’m striking because it is our right to organize, our right to march, to occupy. I’m striking against retaliation at work and everywhere. I’m striking for Chelsea Manning, and Glenn Greenwald, and Assata Shakur, and Edward Snowden.
I’m striking against the disregard for working class lives, in the US and everywhere. I’m striking against military occupation, and I’m striking against drone wars, and against imperialism. I’m striking because no Syrian ever let me be homeless, or go hungry.
I’m striking to make a stand against austerity. I’m striking because you can’t live in any meaningful way making minimum wage. I’m taking a stand against neoliberalism, against an economy that wants to put all workers into my position. I’m striking to link arms with the teachers, students, and parents fighting for public education. I’m striking in solidarity with the postal workers, and the municipal workers, and nurses, and every public employee that’s ever been made out to be the villain for having basic workplace protections.
I’m not just striking for myself, but for all workers. I’m striking because I believe in solidarity. I’m striking to make solidarity our daily practice.
I’m striking as a step forward. I’m striking because power concedes nothing without a demand. I’m striking because I have a dream. I’m striking because another world is not only possible, but worth fighting for. I’m striking because the only way to see a different future is to stand up, and gaze over the walls of what people say can’t be done. I believe we can win, and that as we stand here, on the shoulders of giants and masses, we can see a better world in embryo, nestled among a hundred workers wearing red shirts and singing, “Power to the union, power to the workers!”
This article was first published by I Can't Believe We Still Have To Protest This Bullshit.