Fighting for Higher Wages

Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is conducting a Fight For 15 campaign that calls for state assemblies to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Though this may be a decent plan to move the political football forward, it is still not enough for someone to live on that kind of wage.

$15 per hour will provide someone $30,000 per year, or $30,320 per year with no vacation time. Even with that yearly salary, that is still not enough for a single person. Let’s say a 20-something person in Chicago made $30,000 at $15 per hour. Their yearly costs would be:

  • Rent, $12,696
  • Electric $600
  • Gas $1,200
  • Groceries $2,400

The yearly total would be $16,896, giving that person  $13,104 left over in their budget. That is just after four personal expenses. This is not including paying off tuition, a possible car payment, possible mass transit fees, social activities, state and federal taxes, and other expenditures. So fighting for $15 is still not a reasonable rate to fight for.

Take the same situation, but now with $21 per hour. That person would have $21, 904 left over in their budget; if  factoring in the other expenditures mentioned above, this salary would give a person more room to live. A family of two could, conceivably, live off that as well.

Playing political football with the working class’s wages is not fair, or right. We are talking about their livelihood and surviving in these dangerous economic times. The working class needs to have people fighting for higher demands. We cannot be afraid to ask for higher stakes with the working class standing right by our side. The more we speak and stand out, the more people will be willing to listen and fight with us.



who for nearly 20 years has been an activist, community organizer, and political strategist in the Midwest, is also the Founder and Lead Organizer for the grassroots organization Speaking Truth To Power.

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