On Tuesday, November 10th — exactly a year before Election Day — fast-food and other low-wage workers will walk off the job in 270 cities and towns across the country as part of a push for a nationwide $15 minimum wage.
These strikes will take place across battleground states like Ohio, Florida and Virginia, as well as in cities like New York, where workers recently won a new $15 hourly wage but will protest in solidarity.
Fast-food employees will be joined by workers from other industries that typically pay low hourly wages, including home care, child care, residential care, maintenance, and security. Adjunct professors — who make, on average, around $31,000 annually — will also be on hand.
Elected leaders, clergy allies, Black Lives Matter activists, immigration advocates and members of women’s groups will all be present at various walkouts and rallies across the U.S, according to Fight for $15, the union-supported group behind this movement.
The day of action comes as the issue of minimum wage takes center stage in the run up to the 2016 presidential election. Fight for $15 notes that all three major Democratic candidates support higher pay for low-wage workers. Hillary Clinton has, however, stopped short of endorsing a $15 federal minimum wage, instead calling for a hike to $12.
The federal minimum wage is at present $7.25 an hour. A recent report by the Alliance for a Just Society found that Americans on average have to earn $16.97 an hour to make a living wage — that is, to pay for housing, utilities, and childcare while putting a modest amount of savings away for emergencies.
As workers get set to push for a pay boost, Republican presidential candidates have been voicing opposition to a federal minimum wage. Carly Fiorina described the federal government’s role in setting a minimum wage as unconstitutional in the most recent GOP debate.
There are millions of votes at stake in this battle, given that approximately 42% of the U.S. workforce makes less than $15 an hour. A recent study of workers making less than that sum commissioned by the National Employment Law Project found that 69% of unregistered voters would register to vote in support of a candidate backing a $15 federal minimum wage and union rights.