Why We Fight for $15

The Sierra Club’s founder John Muir pointed out that everything is connected, that “when we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” This rings especially true today. That’s why we’re proud to stand in solidarity with working people all over the country who are fighting for their right to living wages on a living planet.

Today, fast-food workers are coming together from across the country, in more than 500 cities, to strike for $15-an-hour and the right to form a union without retaliation. The Sierra Club is standing with workers in this fight because it’s the same fight for a living planet.

Nearly half of all workers across the country make less than $15 an hour. Across the country, these low-wage workers can’t make ends meet. In Miami, a worker making minimum wage has to work 79 hours a week, double the hours of a full-time job, just to rent a two-bedroom apartment.

These jobs may be the fastest growing jobs in the nation, but they are in no way liveable. Without a living wage, workers can’t afford to eat or feed their families. Without a living wage, workers can’t pay their rent and house their families. Without a living wage and without healthcare, workers’ lives and the lives of their families are in danger. The fight for $15 is a fight for human rights, just like the fight for a living planet.

On top of all that, these workers are bearing the brunt of pollution from their corporate employers, whether it be McDonalds, Burger King, or the many others taking toxic shortcuts just to pad their profits.

This strike is taking on the same corporate business model that poisons our planet — the fast food stores that pay so little that their own workers can’t afford to eat the very food they sell are running global supply chains that emit the crazy levels of carbon pollution that’s destroying our climate, all while clearing our forests for packaging and palm oil.

For example, McDonald’s makes french fries with palm oil that comes from destroying the tropical forests where indigenous people live — forests that save our lives by pulling carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere.

When fossil fuels disrupt our climate, causing killer heat waves, wildfires and deadly floods, who suffers the most? When McDonald’s clears the tropical rainforests, who is affected? When Walmart ships products overseas, who bears the consequences? It’s the people who can’t afford to flee from fires and floods, and the people who must raise their kids next door to coal plants, fracking sites, and oil refineries — it’s the people who don’t make a living wage.

Corporations are making tremendous profits, but they’re not paying employees enough to support their families and cover their basic needs like food, health care, rent and transportation — all while saddling them with the harmful effects of pollution. These billion-dollar companies can afford to and must pay their employees better. These billion-dollar companies must invest in people, and pay their employees a living wage. These billion-dollar companies must invest in communities and source their products locally.

Fast-food workers are coming together and striking all over the country to fight for $15 an hour and the right to form a union without retaliation, and we’re standing with them. They’re coming together because it works. They’ve won in New York, they’ve won in Los Angeles, they’ve won in Seattle, and they’ve won in San Francisco. We’re in this fight because it’s time to take these victories nationwide.


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