Thursday, June 01, 2017

Fifteen and Fairness

Image result for fifteen and fairness

For months I've been reading tweets about the Fight for $15 campaign in the United States. While it seems to be gaining traction now, it actually began in 2012 when two hundred fast-food workers walked off the job in New York City to demand $15 an hour, as well as union rights. The initiative has spread across the States and around the world. Amongst those affected by low wages are fast-food workers, home health aides, child care teachers, airport workers, adjunct professors, retail employees – and underpaid workers everywhere.

Many of the tweets are about the unfair wages at McDonald’s, a corporation which makes billions of dollars yet pays employees so poorly that many employees in the US must rely on forms of social assistance to get by. On the Fight for $15 website it says "We can’t feed our families, pay our bills, or even keep a roof over our heads on minimum wage pay." Some states have brought legal action against employers who pay meager wages because it puts pressure on governments to make up the shortfall. In Canada the movement is Fifteen and Fairness -- more Canadian sounding?

This week the Ontario government announced that they will work toward a $15 wage over the next two years. There are business leaders who claim that this will make some employers uncompetitive and may push some businesses under. We can hope that this is not the case and it can be tough to be an entrepreneur in a competitive market. Still, the Ontario economy is thriving and a lot of workers -- roughly one in eight -- are trying to survive on a minimum wage of $11.40. Thirty percent of Ontarians make less that $15 an hour.

When we have interviewed those who come to Bridge St. UC for our meal ministries we discover that some of our guests are amongst the "working poor." They are so strapped by the end of the month that the nutritious meals we serve are a Godsend. Often guests go back for a second "heapin' helpin'" because this will be the best meal they'll get in the week.

A living wage is something Christians need to support, individually and collectively. We want it for ourselves, so surely we want it for others.


1 comment:

Judy McKnight said...

I agree fully with a $15 wage - no one can survive with a family on such low incomes !