Minimum wage protest

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On April 15, protests will commence throughout St. Louis, as well as in 190 cities in the U.S. and more than 40 other countries, in an attempt to increase the minimum wage given by large companies from $7.65 an hour to $15 and allow unionization without fear of retaliation for low-wage workers, which includes fast-food employees and adjunct faculty at universities, among other types of employment. The movement, dubbed Fight for $15 nationally and Show Me $15 in St. Louis, has resonated with 188 universities across the country, including SLU and Washington University, and they have all planned some form of direct action to be taken on the April 15. SLU students will host a speak out at the clock tower starting at 3:30 p.m.

St. Louis was the third of 150 cities across the United States to join the movement and will witness a mass walkout and strike by many low-wage workers across the metropolitan area. The threat of a massive strike lead McDonald’s to issue a $1 an hour raise for 9,000 workers. Celina della Croce, a member of the Show Me $15, had the following to say of McDonald’s actions:

“I think it shows that McDonald’s is paying attention, but we said $15 and a union for all workers, not a small raise for a fraction of their workers.”

The fight for an increased minimum wage has become a hot topic throughout many political and economic discussions in this country, with politicians from both sides making room on their platforms to address the issue. Minimum wage has been a concern for many college students working their way through school; however, it is also becoming an increasing concern for many college graduates entering into the job market.

A study done by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 2014 found that of graduates with a bachelor’s degree, 44 percent were underemployed and those with a Ph.D. or master’s degree were at a staggering 59 percent underemployment rate. This is an increase from the 35 percent underemployment rate that was seen back in 2008. Another study done by the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2013 found that 260,000 college graduates with a bachelor’s degree and 200,000 with an associate’s degree were making minimum wage or less.

SLU employs many of these low-wage workers as grounds crew, food service and as professors that are considered adjunct faculty. Adjunct faculty teach many classes on SLU’s campus; however, they often make less than custodial staff and have no ability to gain tenure.

Sarah Nash, a SLU student who has been taking the reins in the organization of SLU’s participation in the movement claimed that this is a student’s reality. The movement, in Nash’s opinion, encompasses many people’s passions for volunteering. “Whether you want to be working for economic equality, racial equality, or social justice … it is represented here.”

“Groundskeepers, adjunct professors, food service and custodians are working full-time, but are still in poverty … I’m fighting for those people.”

Students wishing to take part in the protest can meet at the clock tower at 4:00 p.m. on April 15 and be able to take buses and shuttles to Washington University for the main rally at 4:30 p.m. Show Me $15 will also provide transportation from the rallies back to SLU. Students will also be able to engage in an art day to show solidarity with low-wage workers in the quad on Sunday, April 12, at 11:00 a.m.

“In my experience at SLU, we do one day of service and pat ourselves on the back for it,” said Nash of SLU’s annual Make a Difference Day. “We convince ourselves that we are living out the Jesuit mission and engaging enough with the St. Louis community.  Joining Show Me 15 offers us real and tangible ways to make that difference.”

Students wishing to learn more can check out April15.org or through social media – @show_Me15 on Twitter and Instagram, and Show Me 15 on Facebook.