Law and Politics

Fight For $15 Workers Back Bernie For President

November 13, 2015
By Joe Maniscalco 

SEIU 1199 workers rally for a $15 minimum wage.

SEIU 1199 workers rally for a $15 minimum wage.

New York, NY – Governor Cuomo was not the only elected official that loomed large in the hearts of low-wage earners cheering a $15 an hour minimum wage at Foley Square this week — Vermont senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders also enjoyed lots of praise. 

“I think the most sincere [candidate] at this point is Bernie Sanders,” 1199 SEIU home health aide Patricia O’Hara said. “Hillary Clinton is part of the one percent.”

O’Hara’s strong support for Sanders and general disdain for Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton was typical among the workers LaborPress spoke to on Tuesday, November 10.

“I think Hillary is the token,” fellow home health aide Diane Holmes said. “I’m not sure that she will get in, but I think that Bernie is the one with the best options for us.”

The latest CBS News/NYT poll has Hillary Clinton running 19 points ahead of her chief rival Bernie Sanders. 

But if Clinton persists in being the “presumed Democratic nominee” for president, they forgot to tell fast food workers like Rebecca Cornick, who is also strongly supporting Bernie Sanders in the 2016 race for president. 

“I would only trust the candidate that listens to the voice of the people,” Cornick said. “It’s not just the fast food movement, it’s a global movement against poverty. Things need to change. I’m behind Bernie.”

Sanders has long supported raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, and has even introduced legislation in a hostile Congress to achieve that goal. The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour hasn’t budged since 2009. 

Clinton voices support for the Fight for $15 movement — but actually only backs raising the federal minimum to $12 an hour. 

As a leading Fight for $15 advocate at the Brooklyn Wendy’s where she’s worked for the past nine years, Cornick has risked a lot. The Starrett  City resident said that she’s lost bonuses, seen her hours cut, and generally been painted as a “villain” as a result of her advocacy. She is  now looking for a presidential candidate who will truly fight for all low-wage workers. 

“We need protection on the job,” Cornick said. “I was considered a top employee, but now my back is up against the wall.” 

Grassroots support for Sanders is beginning to impact large established bodies. Just two days after the $15 minimum wage rallies that took place across the nation, the American Postal Workers Union officially endorsed Sanders for president.  

SEIU 1199 met with both Sanders and Clinton two weeks ago, but has yet to announce which candidate the union will be endorsing for president. 

Outspoken fast food worker and Fight for $15 advocate Alvin Major, meanwhile, condemned elected officials earlier this week who continue to be tone deaf to the ongoing plight of low-wage workers. 

“When we vote for you, we hire you to do a job, so you need to do the right thing and take care of us,” Major said. “That’s what we hire your for.”

November 12, 2015

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