To: Detroit Workers' Voice mailing list
Date: April 17, 2015
RE: The $15 an hour movement

D15: The $15 an hour demonstration in Detroit

On Wednesday April 15 there were fast food strikes and demonstrations by low-wage workers in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and more than 200 other cities in favor of raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. Aside from fast food workers, demonstrators included adjunct college professors, child care workers, industrial laundry workers, Walmart employees, and others. The organizers of "Fight for $15" claim that about 60,000 workers took part, which shows growth over last year. The action was organized on Tax Day, the final day for filing one's income tax, in order to emphasize that millions of low-wage workers can't live on their wage and have to rely on welfare and public assistance.

In "D15" in Detroit, a couple of fast food establishments were struck, and there was also a lively demonstration with close to a thousand people, mostly young workers, mostly black, but with some older union members also taking party. There was a vigorous march for a couple of miles through the Wayne State University area, ending at a McDonald's. Slogans rang out like "No Justice, No Peace" and "What you you want? $15".

Tim Hall from Detroit Workers' Voice took part with a sign showing support for the low-wage workers by postal workers, and also calling on people to check out the Facebook page for "Real Talk", where rank-and-file auto workers discuss how to carry on a struggle despite the do-nothing stand of the UAW leadership. Also at D15 was a young black woman Ford worker who had taken part in the Real Talk picket several days earlier at Solidarity House (UAW headquarters).

A number of older UAW workers took part too. In discussion prior to the march, some denounced former UAW President Bob King (his term lasted from June 2010 to June 2014) for the passage of anti-union ("right-to-work") legislation in Michigan and for the two-tier wage system in auto in which lower tier workers get only half the pay that upper tier workers get. They said the UAW had a hand in organizing D15, but only rank-and-file auto workers were visibly present.

While the demonstration was spirited, the whole event was controlled by the SEIU union bureaucrats. They had a sound truck and a guy leading chants, who gave popular slogans. But at the end the SEIU merely thanked people for coming and didn't suggest anything people could do to continue the struggle. Moreover, the SEIU continued to run D15 in the same sectarian fashion it did last year. A wrong location was widely advertised on Facebook, presumably to keep other groups from taking part and influencing the demonstration. Vans had to be sent to the wrong location to bring people to the real location of the D15 action.

Two pictures from D15 are attached [omitted from this webpage].

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Posted on May 3, 2015.