On Thursday, April 14, the Fight for $15 movement organized protests, rallies, and strikes across the country and supporters of Bend the Arc’s #JewsFor15 campaign mobilized to join them.
Coming on the heels of historic victories in California and New York, the day of action had a strong and triumphant tone. In just a few short years, the movement has redefined what’s possible in the fight for economic opportunity.
#JewsFor15 participated in demonstrations in seven cities — New York City, Los Angeles, Oakland, New Orleans, Denver, Durham, and Washington, D.C — to demand a $15 federal minimum wage and the right of workers to form a union.
Some highlights from across the country include:
A delegation consisting of fast food workers, home care workers, and people of faith, including Bend the Arc Bay Area Regional Council Chair Rabbi Mike Rothbaum spoke with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaff about the struggles of living on the current minimum wage and the lack of affordable housing. To close the day, Rabbi Mike shared a Passover reflection on the struggle for liberation.
Los Angeles, CA
Rabbi Aryeh Cohen, our Southern California Rabbi-in-Residence, spoke at a 6:00am strike for fast food workers. In the afternoon, Bend the Arc supporters and thousands of workers and activists marched to celebrate the passage of a $15 minimum wage in California. In recent years, leaders in Southern California supported the efforts of hotel workers seeking a living wage and joined the Raise LA campaign to ensure that nonprofits and small businesses will not be exempt from the Los Angeles City $15 minimum wage ordinance that passed last year.
Bend the Arc supporters
in Denver — including Jewish elected officials, longstanding leaders, and new supporters — joined fast food and healthcare
workers, and janitors to occupy two McDonald's restaurants with a rally and march through downtown Denver. The day also served as the kickoff for a major campaign by Denver's 2,400 union janitors for better pay, job safety, and more dignified treatment in the workplace.
New York, NY
New York supporters attended two actions in Times Square: a march at the crack of dawn and a large rally in the afternoon. One of the speakers at the rally, Aber Kawas from the Arab American Association of NewYork, is a current participant in our interfaith Community Organizing Residency. From there, the crowd joined a March Against Hate to join a protest outside the State GOP Gala.
Bend the Arc supporters gathered with over 100 protesters outside of a McDonald's restaurant in downtown Durham to demonstrate with the Fight for $15. Workers, activists and community leaders danced and chanted in the middle of Morgan Street, which runs in a loop around the heart of downtown. Longtime Fight for $15 advocates led the rally in songs, Reverend William Barber spoke, as did fast food and home care workers.
Rabbi Jason Kimelman-Block, director of Bend the Arc Jewish Action, delivered remarks calling for a $15 minimum wage for federal contract workers. “We believe that it is an affront to human dignity when workers are deprived of fully enjoying the fruits of their labor and must struggle to simply feed, clothe and shelter themselves and their children,” he told protesters at a press conference outside of the U.S. Department of Labor. “As people of faith, we see widening economic inequality in America and its impact on low-wage workers and their families as not just an economic issue — it is a moral crisis.”
You can join the #JewsFor15 campaign by signing the pledge and inviting family and friends to get involved.