In Ontario over the last several months, the "Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage" has built considerable pressure on the Wynne Liberals to raise the minimum wage to $14/hr from their current poverty rate of $10.25.
This Friday and Saturday (January 24 and 25th) activists, local campaigns and supporting organizations are convening in Toronto to discuss the way forward and hear from successful campaigns in the United States.
Under the slogan, "Fair Wages Now", and "You deserve a raise", the campaign has been successful in organizing days of actions around different themes on the 14th of every month, in dozens of communities, for the past several months. The campaign is coordinated by the Workers Action Centre in Toronto, but has received a lot of support from other unions and organizations including the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, ACORN, the Young Communist League, the Ontario Federation of Labour, and a number of Labour Councils across Ontario.
Recently the Toronto Star has come out in favour of the raising the minimum wage, and the "Minimum Wage Advisory Panel" which was created by the Wynne Liberals almost a year ago, is expected to report their findings. The campaign has been focusing much of its message on the panel, and it hopes that their recommendations will be adopted.
While the public has rallied around the demands of the campaign, and it has unified grassroots poverty and labour activists across the country with a success that is rare in Ontario, there is still a battle to make sure that Wynne and her government can't shelve the report and shut out the campaign with the buzz of an election, where it looks like none of the major parties are supporting the demands of the campaign.
For this reason, the meetings and forum this weekend are of special significance. How can we take it to the next level and build a very successful campaign into a movement that can't be ignored by the parties in Queen's Park? The very parties who are supported by large employers who benefit from poverty wages. It's possible, but requires even greater militancy and unity from the campaign, anti-poverty groups and the labour movement as a whole across Ontario. It is also important that if an election is called, that the campaign step up its work, and resist the tendency to give up its independent voice to a lesser-evil political party, that ultimately won't deliver on the demands of the campaign.
The guests from south of the border attending the meetings and forum hope to energize the local activists with their successes. There will be representatives from the historic "Fight for 15" fast-food worker strikes, and a representative from "Working Washington" which recently won a $15/hr wage at the Seattle-Tacoma airport.
If you're able to make it you won't want to miss the public forum this evening (details below). And if you haven't gotten involved already get in touch with the campaign through the website or find your local chapter.
The February 14th day of action is only a couple weeks away!
Fight for Fair Wages! Public forum
Featuring Janah Bailey & Zitlali Adame-Reducindo from Fight for 15, on retail worker strikes in Chicago and across the US Sterling Harders, Working Washington, on winning a $15 minimum wage at Seattle-Tacoma airport
* Speakers from the Campaign to Raise the Minimum wage
* Spoken word by Ritalin
* Music by Samba Squad and DJ No Capitalista
Join the fight for a $14 minimum wage!
Organized by Campaign to Raise the Minimum Wage
Women and Gender Studies Institute, University of Toronto
Closing the Employment Standards Enforcement Gap Partnership Grant