Fight for $15 march in Cleveland today focused on presidential race

Ian Pajer-Rogers |

SEIU Local 99/Flickr

From The Plain Dealer:

by Olivera Perkins

CLEVELAND, Ohio – Supporters of a $15 minimum wage will march today – the day before presidential primaries in Ohio and other key states -- in a symbolic gesture to remind voters and candidates about issues facing working-class Americans.

The Fight for $15 march is scheduled to begin 5:30 p.m. at 1771 E. 30th St., which is a few blocks from the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections. The march will pass by the elections board before ending several blocks away at Cleveland State University, where a 6 p.m. rally is scheduled. Organizers said they are expecting at least 500 participates.

Fight for $15, led by the Service Employees International Union, is seeking to raise the federal hourly minimum wage, which is currently $7.25, to $15. Ohio's minimum wage is $8.10. For more than three years, Fight for $15 has organized fast-food strikes and protests in cities throughout the nation, including various rallies in Cleveland calling for wage hikes.

Organizers said the march won't just focus on increasing the minimum wage, but also the Fight for $15 Voter Agenda. Among the issues it includes are support for "union rights and comprehensive immigration reform."

Ken Abner, a local fast-food worker, who makes $8.30 per hour, will be among those attending today's march and rally.

"No matter how hard or long I work, I still don't make enough to cover the basics, like rent for my family or my bus pass," he said in a news release. "So even though I registered to vote nearly a decade ago, I never voted because I felt like it didn't matter -- but our movement is changing that."

Abner said participating in the low-wage workers' movement has given him a strong sense that his vote has the power to make a difference.

So, Tuesday, for the first time, he will vote.

"I'm one of the 2.4 million Ohioans who could swing this election, and if candidates want my vote, they can come and get it by backing $15 and union rights," Abner said.

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