March for $15 minimum wage takes place in Bay Area

March 27 protest.WW photo: Terri Kay

March 27 protest.
WW photo: Terri Kay

Oakland, Calif. — Organized by UNITE HERE Local 2850, on March 27 several hundred East Bay hotel, restaurant and stadium workers marched for jobs, rights and power under the call of “The Town Hella Needs A Raise.” (“Hella” is a common slang term in the Bay Area, meant to convey a strong and emphatic expletive.)

The union’s statement read, “We are fighting for a higher minimum wage and good jobs that pay us what we need to survive and thrive in the Bay Area in 2014! Join hotel housekeepers, hot dog vendors from the Coliseum, and airport fast-food workers who are fighting for good contracts — along with fast-food workers fighting for $15 an hour and a union, and the Lift Up Oakland! coalition to raise the minimum wage!”

Concerned that the Lift Up Oakland coalition’s ballot initiative for a $12.25 minimum wage was undercutting the national drive for $15, some labor activists organized a contingent within the march entitled “The Town Hella Needs To Fight for $15.”  They carried signs and distributed buttons with the “Fight for 15” slogan. The buttons and signs were eagerly accepted by marchers, and many of the chants called out for a $15 minimum wage as well.