We are asking for organizations and individuals to ensdorse this statement of support with the Fight for 15 in Rochester. Please consider endorsements from your church, temple, neighborhood organization, union, or any other organizations locally.
To fight poverty in Rochester, Fight for 15
Rochester is the fifth poorest city in the country. For all of our collective hand-wringing over what is to be done about it, few people seem willing to state the obvious: the leading cause of poverty is low wages.
Today fast food workers are organizing to demand $15 per hour and the right to organize a union without retaliation. Fair wages and labor unions are the most effective way to combat poverty.
Adjusted for inflation, wages for fast food workers have dropped by 36 cents an hour since 2010, while fast food corporations have made record-breaking profits in the same period.
According to Sageworks, a private-company financial-data analytics firm, revenues for fast food restaurants rose 12.1 percent between Aug. 2012 and Aug. 2013, but the percentage of revenue spent on payroll decreased from 23.5 percent to 22.9 percent.
Given those facts, it’s not unreasonable for Rochester’s fast-food workers to demand $15 an hour for their labor. According to former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, the minimum wage of $1.60 an hour in 1968 would be $10.56 today when adjusted for inflation, but “the typical worker is also about twice as productive since then. Some of those productivity gains should go to workers at the bottom,” Reich says in an April 9 story in The Christian Science Monitor headlined “Minimum wage should be $15 an hour.”
Contrary to popular perception, only a third of fast food workers are teenagers. Almost 40 percent are 25 or older, and another 30 percent are between the ages of 20 and 24. More than 30 percent have at least some college experience; and more than 25 percent are parents, according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
Poverty wages affect not only fast food workers, but taxpayers. In a recent study, economists at the University of California, Berkeley, found that 52 percent of fast-food workers rely on taxpayer-funded public assistance programs such as food stamps or Medicaid.
We call upon Rochester’s elected officials, religious leaders, academics, labor leaders anti-poverty advocates, and concerned citizens to support our city’s fast food workers in their Fight for 15 so they may earn a decent wage for their labor. We also call upon all fast-food employers in the Rochester area to pay $15 per hour and allow their workers to organize into unions without fear of retaliation or interference.