The Progressive


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For Immediate Release
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Building off Electrifying DNC Speech, Rev. Barber to Keynote First-Ever Fight for $15 Convention

 Architect of ‘Moral Monday’ Movement to Join Thousands Fighting for $15, Union Rights at Richmond Gathering


Building off a widely-praised speech at the Democratic National Convention in July, the Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II - architect of the Forward Together Moral Mondays movement and founder of Repairers of the Breach - will deliver the keynote address at the first-ever Fight for $15 Convention in Richmond this week.

Thousands of underpaid workers from across the country will converge in the former capital of the Confederacy Friday and Saturday to draw links between the history of racism in the United States and the economic crisis that has resulted in nearly 64 million Americans struggling to get by on less than $15/hour. It's the first time workers fighting for $15/hour and union rights are coming together across industries -- with fast-food, home care, child care, airport, university, manufacturing, retail and farm workers, among others, heading to Richmond for the convention.

The gathering will culminate in a march by 10,000 workers on monuments to Confederate generals Robert E. Lee and William Carter Wickham. In addition to Rev. Barber, speakers at the convention will include SEIU President Mary Kay Henry and workers from nearly a dozen industries who are leading the Fight for $15.

Friday, August 12

5:00 pm Convention Opening | Greater Richmond Convention Center, 403 Nth 3rd St., Richmond, VA

National Fight for $15 Convention begins, remarks by SEIU president Mary Kay Henry

Saturday, August 13

9:00 am Convention | Greater Richmond Convention Center, 403 Nth 3rd St., Richmond, VA

2:00 pm March | Monument Avenue, Richmond, VA, keynote by Rev. Barber

Since fast-food workers in New York City first walked off their jobs in November 2012, the Fight for $15 has won a string of stunning successes--almost 20 million workers have gained significant raises as a direct result of the movement, including some 10 million who are on their way to $15 an hour. The Associated Press said underpaid workers are flexing, "increasingly potent political muscle," and that they have "made low wages a hot political issue," and BuzzFeed said they "could make up a powerful new voting bloc."

During the presidential primaries, workers in the Fight for $15 marched on presidential primary debates , forcing White House hopefuls to address the demands of underpaid voters head on. On five occasions in the debates, candidates were pressed by moderators to respond to families in the Fight for $15 movement. Just last month, the Democratic Party adopted a party platform that includes a $15 an hour federal minimum wage.

The Fight for $15 has built deep ties with civil rights groups and leaders across the country. U.S. Rep. John Lewis joined Atlanta fast-food workers on a strike line in August 2013, encouraging them to, "Keep walking, keep marching, keep talking, keep pushing." In the summer of 2014, the NAACP passed a resolution backing the Fight for $15; in the winter of 2015 Memphis sanitation workers who participated in the 1968 strike in Memphis, during which Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, implored a gathering of fast-food workers at Dr. King's church in Atlanta to keep fighting for $15 and union rights; and faith leaders of all stripes have echoed the workers' moral argument for dignity on the job. Workers have developed deep ties with the Black Lives Matter movement and marched alongside activists calling for racial justice from Ferguson, Mo. to Baton Rouge, La, to Milwaukee, Wisc.

Fast food workers are coming together all over the country to fight for $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation. We work for corporations that are making tremendous profits, but do not pay employees enough to support our families and to cover basic needs like food, health care, rent and transportation.