Sept. 4, 2014 (San Diego) Over 300 San Diegans hit the streets this morning. More than a few are fast food workers, who were taking part in the nationwide Strike for 15 movement, which puts their minimum wage jobs on the line. There were more than 150 cities participating.
It was bright and early, five thirty in the morning, when they started to gather at the City Heights Plaza, near the McDonalds in City Heights. The address was University and Fairmont. They came ready to march and to make demands.
Among them were city council member Marti Emerald and assembly member Lorena Gonzalez. We also counted a staffer for State Senator Marti Block.
Before the march Reporting San Diego talked with Reverend Beth Johnson of the Palomar Unitarian University Fellowship, and member of the Committee for Interfaith Worker Justice of San Diego.
Reverend Johnson said that “we are continuing that wave of strike that started in New York three hours ago.” She added that what the workers are trying “to achieve fair wages for their labor, and the right to have a union.”
“This is about a reasonable life with dignity.” We also asked whether this movement would affect policy makers. She said that “I know that (President) Obama has talked of the need for a $$15 wage. That is a fair wage.” She concluded the more that people support this, the more momentum this will gain.
We also talked with council member Emerald, who represents District 9. We also are including the video of her speech as well. She told Reporting San Diego that workers are “trying to communicate the need for a higher minimum wage and earned sick leave.” She also had a message for San Diegans faced with signature gatherers to try to put the raise and sick leave already approved by the Council on the ballot, “don’t sign it.”
She said that sick leave is “a basic right for workers in San Diego.” She added that she “applaud them, it takes a lot of courage to be out here, some of these people may be putting their jobs on the line.”
As the workers moved to the just outside the McDonnalds, Jay Ames told us that he came from Idaho hoping for a better life, but making it on the salary he makes, is not enough. He might be homeless because he cannot make it on a minimum wage.
He was also very nervous; since this is the first time he speaks in public. That alone took courage.
Marie Kaio said that at the end of the month she has to go to churches to try to get help with food. She works at Burger King and she cannot make it on the pay she gets.
When the march started, the people marched down University toward the I-15. They blocked the on ramp on the I-15 for a good 15 minutes, and a group of protesters sat at the center of the intersection. They were Wendy Vargas, Manuela Vargas. Luis de la Cruz, Carmen Villa, Nicholas Cervantes, Marie Kaio, Jay Ames, Starren Henry, and organizer Nancy Cruz, and Reverend Beth Johnson. They were all taken into custody by the San Diego Police Department for civil disobedience.
Richard Barrrera, of the Central Labor Council, later told Reporting San Diego that “they are simply calling attention to the fact that working families in San Diego every day simply do not make enough money to make ends meet to support families.”
He added: “Four in 10 families in our community do not make enough to make ends meet. You can’t survive on nine dollars an hour.” He also said that these workers want to have the right to form a union. They are just as valuable as any other worker in any other field. “They were standing for all of us today.”
The USA Today reports that McDonnalds issued the following statement:
In a statement, McDonald’s said, “We believe that any minimum wage increase should be implemented over time so that the impact on owners and small and medium-sized businesses — like the ones who own and operate the majority of our restaurants — is manageable.”
The Burger King was closed.
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