Yannet Lathrop [co-author]: the worker-led movement has won raises for
millions of people despite facing "every imaginable obstacle—from a
system increasingly stacked against workers and labor unions, to
interference from some of the most nefarious corporations, who deployed
well-paid lobbyists to fight tooth and nail against higher minimum
In late November 2012, a small group of fast-food workers in New York City walked out of their jobs in response to low wages
and the challenges of organizing a union in a high-turnover and high-exploitation industry.
These workers—many of them Black and brown—would launch one of the most successful worker movements of the 21st
century, as their demands echoed across the country, spreading the call for a $15 minimum wage and a union.
The Fight for $15, as the movement inspired by these walkouts would
be called, sparked waves of action to raise the minimum wage in the
ensuing years, leading dozens of states, cities, and counties to raise
their wages; putting pressure on some of the world’s largest
corporations to raise their pay scales; and informing the national
conversation on living wages, workplace democracy, and equity.
This report quantifies the wage impact of the Fight for $15. Using
U.S. Census data, we estimate that 26 million workers have been boosted
by higher minimum wage policies passed by all levels of government
since 2012—winning over $150 billion in additional annual income.[i]
We also find that the Fight for $15 has helped raise the earnings of nearly 12 million workers of color and 18 million women
—likely helping narrow the racial and gender wage gaps (though a wage gap analysis is beyond the scope of this report).
Crucially, this worker-led movement delivered these additional
earnings despite the racist, sexist, and anti-worker system of laws and
political climate in the United States—with laws in place around the
country that permit forced arbitration,
and ongoing attacks on the few parts of our system that actually aid working people.....