By Sunny Jordan Hamrick
“What do we want? 15 and a union! When do we want it? Now!”
My dear friends, that “now” is perhaps closer to this moment than ever before. On Jan. 15, the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, low-wage workers all across the country rallied, calling for President-Elect Joe Biden to hold to his promise in raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Snow flurries didn’t keep low-wage workers all around the country from going on strike, rallying support, and presenting their continued cries for change in the ways they are treated.
The local group Stand Up KC organized a very successful caravan that corralled a McDonalds where their demands for $15 an hour and a union were presented. Speakers aligning their support for the movement included workers such as Terrance Wise, Fran Marion, Mayor Quinton Lucas, Rev. Dr. Rodney Williams, and members from other labor movements such as the United Auto Workers Union. “Millions of workers like myself are still getting up every day and going to work and are being forced to raise our families in poverty. It’s time for our political leaders to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour nationwide!” said Fran Marion, mother of two.
Mayor Lucas echoed the cry, saying, “It ain’t right that you can be somebody working in Kansas City today for 40, 60, 80 hours a week and not able to take care of your family.” He ended his speech at the podium outside of McDonald’s saying that “politicians, our churches, everybody in our community, everyone needs to clamor for a living wage for workers!” After a very successful and celebratory gathering of cars filling a McDonald’s parking lot, the caravan moved to circle around Research Medical Center, to show support for workers there seeking higher wages for their efforts.
Though in our cars, where we were more distant from one another than at other times of gathering, the victory of a living wage for millions of Americans feels closer than ever. We welcome you to express your support for a living wage to your representatives and get in touch with the Stand Up Kc movement, knowing that those who have support are better equipped to support the pathway to peace.
—Sunny Jordan Hamrick, a co-chair of the PeaceWorks-KC Board, is part of the Jerusalem Farm community in KC MO.