“What do we want?” “15!!!” “When do we want it?” “NOW!!!” Protestors at the Fight for 15 yelled this, among many other chants, on the afternoon of April 14 as they marched from Northeastern University to the AMC Loew’s movie theater in the Boston Common. The main demand focused on increasing the minimum wage in the state of Massachusetts to $15 per hour, but many other demands arose. Multiple workers unions were present to state the case for unionization in low-wage sector jobs. Fast food workers were on strike for the march, shutting down establishments like the the McDonald’s on Tremont Street. Community organizing groups presented the case of a Hispanic man fighting for $30,000 worth of unpaid wages from a previous contractor he worked with. The 5,000+ people present stood for labor conditions across different sectors and with multiple demands beyond the minimum wage ask.
Along the route of the march, the demonstration stopped in front of key locations: Northeastern, Chinatown, AMC Loew’s. The eight stops were designated to directly protest against workplaces and institutions that oppress low-wage workers, either through unjust compensations, or costly living in gentrified neighborhoods. This demonstrated the well-thought out intention of the march, as well as the large scope of the plight Boston families face.
As participants in the march, our objective remained to lift our voice in solidarity with the people facing these issues. While many of our youth demand the same $15 per hour wage that was presented in this demonstration, the voice for youth jobs was not as strong. One of our youth leaders, Mary, specifically mentioned how much a wage increase would help her save money for college with her summer job. The role of youth employment needed a little more strength in this demonstration. Either way, we lifted our voices through chants and megaphones, listening intently to the stories shared at each stop.
The march is only the first major action hosted by WageAction.org in Massachusetts, but it stirred momentum to bring to light the multiple issues Boston-area workers face in all sectors, from fast food to adjunct professors in universities. Each of these areas now have weight, and hopefully they can continue to grow until action is taken.