Former Secretary of State and 2016 presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton called into a convention for low-wage workers in Detroit Sunday to tell them that they couldn't give up the fight for a $15 minimum wage. About 1,300 fast food workers gathered at the convention, and she told them that they deserve a living wage and thus deserve the right to unionize to get it, according to CNN. Clinton's support for a $15 minimum wage comes just after both of the other progressive Democratic hopefuls, former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and Sen. Bernie Sanders from Vermont, both endorsed the movement.
Clinton's aides suggested to the New York Times the move is part of Clinton's larger campaign strategy to endorse more liberal policy positions in an effort to win over staunch Democrats, which would be much easier than trying to persuade undecided independents. Whatever Clinton's motivation, her words were important to low-wage and fast-food who gathered in Detroit and to those around the country who have taken up the Fight for $15 campaign in an effort to finally win living wages. Vox called her support for unionizing and protesting a not-so-subtle jab at Republicans who have tried to limit both of these rights. Clinton told the workers that she wants to be their champion and that she wants to "fight with them every day," according to CNN and the Washington Post:
All of you should not have to march in the streets to get a living wage, but thank you for marching in the streets to get that living wage. We need you out there leading the fight against those who would rip away Americans’ right to organize, to collective bargaining, to fair pay.
The Post said that her language echoed the words used by the Service Employees International Union in its call for a $15 minimum wage. Though protesters have been mostly made up of fast-food workers over the past few years, Clinton also called out home care workers and adjunct professors, who also make up a big part of the SEIU's membership and have joined in calling for higher wages. Clinton said that no one who works hard should struggle to feed his or her family, according to the Post:
No man or woman who works hard to feed America’s families should have to be on food stamps to feed your own families. It is wrong that so many people stand against you thinking that they can steal your wages with no consequences. That even stacks the deck higher for those at the top.
The Fight for $15 has had several victories so far this year. Seattle, San Francisco, and, most recently, Los Angeles adopted $15 minimum wages. New proposals for the same wage have also started in St. Louis and Kansas City, according to the Post. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also recently said he would convene a wage board to decide what constitutes living wages for fast-food workers in New York.
Clinton told the convention that she would champion the movement so that low-wage workers finally had a friend in Washington, according to the Post:
I’m well aware that the folks on top already have plenty of friends in Washington, but we together will change the direction of this great country.
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