Low-wage workers in Boston took part in a national demonstration today demanding a $15-per-hour minimum wage for chain retail store workers, fast food cooks and cashiers.
Their multistop rally brought the workers, nursing home attendants, and others to pick a McDonald's in Dorchester and the popular new Primark clothing store Downtown. They then marched on both Faneuil Hall and the State House to try to convince 2016 presidential candidates to support the $15-per-hour minimum wage.
Organizers say the massive national demonstration scovered 500 cities across the country and included strikes at many fast food location.
Airport worker Khelia Cox said the wage issue and other topics like Black Lives Matter and college affordability will affect her vote next year.
"When I cast my ballot in 2016, if the candidate cannot stand up to these issues and take them head on, I'm going to have a problem with that and I'm going to call them out as well as you," Cox said.
The Legislature's Labor and Workforce Committee on Tuesday approved a bill that would give fast food and big-box retail workers the $15 rate. The committee advanced the legislation to the Senate Ways and Means Committee, which could forward it to the full Senate. From there, the activists will have a tough fight ahead of them in the House and with Gov. Charlie Baker, where opposition to the wage bill is stronger.
The big boost to the wage floor might seem like an unrealistic goal, since Massachusetts just raised the minimum wage for all workers. But New York put in place a $15-per-hour minimum for their fast-food workers this year and a national movement is building.
The same coalition rallied here just a month ago, with workers dropping off petitions to Beacon Hill leaders.
Massachusetts' wage is set to keep going up every year until it reaches $11 an hour in 2017, a pace most of the state's leaders seem happy with for now.