Last Wednesday, I was excited to watch as thousands of Chicago workers marched across the Jackson Boulevard bridge and past my office window in support of a protest to increase the minimum wage to $15 per hour.  The protest was led by fast food workers, home care, child care, security, and retail employees all of whom struggle to provide for their families and make ends meet despite being fully employed earning minimum wage.

With the slogan “Fight for $15” the workers took to the streets, aptly on 4/15, and engaged in a peaceful protest that successfully shut down and/or disturbed business at several fast food restaurants for short periods of time as it moved from the south side of the City and ended near the Chicago Board of Trade.  The 4/15 march in Chicago was one of many similar protests taking place on the same day in major cities across the country and even in a few foreign countries as well.

Supporters of the cause argue that a $15 minimum wage would provide low wage workers with just over $30,000 annually and, some say, a shot at the so-called American Dream of home ownership and being able to afford college for your kids.  Detractors, on the other hand, argue that increasing the minimum wage to $15 would result in greater automation of work and to companies sending more work oversees for a significant loss of jobs.

However, the movement has already had some success in a few big cities and, so far, we haven’t seen those sorts of dire outcomes.  Both Seattle and San Francisco passed ordinances last year raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour to account for the substantial imbalance between the minimum wage and the cost of living. Similarly, the City of Chicago recently passed an ordinance which will incrementally increase the minimum wage for local workers to $13 per hour by 2019.  But for now it remains $8.25 per hour locally and the federal minimum wage remains a dismal $7.25 which calculates out to barely $15,000 per year.

We fully support low wage workers’ fight for a livable wage.  And the next time they march, I plan to be with them.  To learn more about the movement or to get involved yourself, visit the local coalition’s webpage at