Activists pushing for a higher minimum wage through the labor-backed Fight for 15 campaign staged their biggest protest yet on Wednesday.
Starting early on the morning of April 15, the protest — timed to coincide with the federal income tax filing deadline to highlight the fact many workers' wages are so low they must rely on public assistance — wound its way through fast-food restaurants in North Park, Copley Symphony Hall, and government buildings downtown before rallying on the campus of San Diego State University, where over 700 workers and supporters gathered. As many as 100 people were said to have joined the caravan between earlier stops throughout the day.
"Every worker deserves to be treated with dignity and respect on the jobsite," said Christina Hernandez with the Interfaith Center for Worker Justice, speaking to a crowd amassed at Civic Center Plaza shortly before noon during a pause in the marching. "They deserve a dignified wage, which is a living wage."
In addition to fast-food workers, with whom the campaign for a $15 minimum wage began, others, including janitorial workers, security officers, home health workers, and adjunct professors at local colleges and universities (who want to be paid $15,000 per course they teach) have joined in to clamor for higher pay in their respective sectors.
"We need to stand up for this [wage increase], for something that will help us progress in our lives," said Ricky Cope, who works as a local private security guard. "Right now I'm pretty sure most of our lives are stagnant — we can't climb out of this hole that low wages have put us in."
In July 2014, the city passed a compromise version of a minimum-wage hike that was lower than both an initiative proposed by councilmember Todd Gloria and a competing ballot measure.
In short order, mayor Kevin Faulconer promised a veto, and petitioners gathered enough signatures to push their proposal to a public vote, delaying any action until at least June 2016.
Organizers say over 200 protests across the country were held during the “day of action,” part of a continuing campaign.