Fight for $15 Plans National Strikes as Uber Drivers Join Protest for First Time
Gig workers and traditional labor join forces to disrupt U.S. service economy as warning to incoming administration
A nationwide day of action and disruption is set to take place on Tuesday, as workers from around the country and across industries are set to take part in strikes to show their refusal to back down in the face of an incoming rightwing political agenda.
The actions, organized by the Fight for $15 collective, will see airport baggage handlers, Uber drivers, fast-food cooks, cashiers, hospital workers, and others strike to disrupt the U.S. service economy. It marks the first time that Uber drivers will be joining in a Fight for $15 action, showing that the labor collective is growing, with gig workers protesting side by side with more traditional labor.
Protests are scheduled at 20 major airports and outside McDonald's franchises throughout the country to "underscore that any efforts to block wage increases, gut workers' rights or healthcare, deport immigrants, or support racism or racist policies, will be met with unrelenting opposition by workers in the Fight for $15," the organization said Monday.
In addition to showing solidarity with immigrants, people of color, and workers nationwide, the actions will also take on Uber, a central figure in critiques of the U.S. "gig economy"—which many say exploits workers under the guise of offering them flexibility and autonomy.
"Workers in the Fight for $15 have created a powerful movement that boldly proclaims everyone who puts in a hard day's work should receive a fair day's pay," said Adam Shahim, a driver from Pittsburgh, Calif., who says he struggles to keep up with his bills despite driving for Uber 40 hours a week. "I'd like a fair day's pay for my hard work, and so I'm joining with the fast-food, airport, home care, child care, and higher education workers who are leading the way and showing the country how to build an economy that works for everyone, not just the few at the top."
Fight for $15 has helped make critical gains for workers since the movement launched four years ago. Striking workers have won minimum wage increases for 22 million people throughout the country.
"When I walked off the job November 29, 2012, there were 200 of us and everyone said we were dreaming," said Naquasia LeGrand, a McDonald's worker from North Carolina who took part in the movement's first strike in New York City. "It turns out a lot of people had that same dream. We are now tens of thousands, across industries. We've won raises for 22 million workers and today we're more powerful than ever with Uber drivers joining us."