Fast food workers have a right to $15 wages and a union

On April 15, Twin Cities “Fight for 15” organizers staged a protest outside the Dinkytown McDonald’s to demand better working conditions, including higher wages and union rights. The turnout was impressive, but in a system that overwhelmingly privileges business interests, it is clear that much work remains to be done.
 
The Dinkytown McDonald’s is one of the most profitable McDonald’s locations in the Midwest. 
 
Its “success” lies in stark contrast with the poverty wages that its workers receive. Indeed, in a time of ever-rising income inequality, it is becoming increasingly difficult to justify the disparity between corporate wealth and low-wage work. 
 
Of course, pro-business voices blame it on competition and the pressures of global capitalism. But nowhere in these arguments do I sense any regard for the people — the real, living, breathing people — who want to live well and support themselves and their families. 
 
They are the ones who ought to be at the center of these debates. It’s time we shift the terms of the conversation.
 
We live in an era in which various subordinated groups of people are coming together and demanding rights to be treated like humans. 
 
The workers’ rights movement intersects with other civil rights claims having to do with race, gender, sexuality, class and beyond. This movement includes groups like Black Lives Matter, contemporary feminism, the rights movements for LGBT, disabled and immigrant populations, and more. What these demands have in
common is a desire to gain access to the human, to use Judith Butler’s well-known phrase. 
 
While $15 wages and union rights won’t solve everything, it is an important step in the process.
 
Workers’ rights, then, are human rights, but they are not yet recognized as such. 
 
I stand with workers to hold businesses accountable so that working families may gain access to the right to a livable life.