Students prepare to protest for $15 minimum wage

| Editor-in-Chief

Beginning Tuesday, local student organizers for the Fight for $15 movement will kick off a series of events leading up to a worldwide day of action and strike on April 15.

On Tuesday, a panel composed of local service workers, an adjunct professor, and Mary Kay Henry—international president of the Service Employees International Union—will take place in Tisch Commons. A week later, at 6 a.m. on April 15, participating minimum wage workers across St. Louis will walk out of their jobs in protest, according to organizers. At noon, participants are invited to meet in Forest Park for a barbecue before organizing at the intersection of Skinker and Forsyth and heading to Brookings Hall at 4:30 p.m.

Senior Keaton Wetzel, a student organizer for the movement, said that the day of action is expected to attract around 2,500 people to Brookings, ranging from Washington University adjunct professors to fast food workers.

Wetzel said that the issue was relevant to many University students who went on to work in minimum wage jobs after graduation.

“If [college graduates] are only making $8 an hour—even less than that amount in Missouri—what is a college degree really good for?”

Washington University adjunct professors voted to form a union in January, making the University appropriate meeting grounds. Celina della Croce, organizer and Washington University alumna, named adjunct professor Chris Cohen as an important voice in the movement.

“When we had our press release announcing…that [we’d] be going out on an international strike, [Cohen] was there speaking out—he was talking about how…he’s the first person in his family to go to college,” della Croce said. “He went on to get a masters and a Ph.D., and now he’s making $24,000 a year as a Wash. U. adjunct professor.”

For the 48 contiguous states and the District of Columbia, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ 2015 poverty guideline—for a family of four—is $24,250.

Events leading up to the national day of strike are still in the works, but the panel—and a performance by WU-SLam poets Tayler Geiger (senior), Katy Przybylski (sophomore) and Mikkel Snyder (alumnus)—are set to occur on Tuesday.

When asked why the St. Louis day of action is set to occur on Washington University’s campus, Wetzel explained that it was not because there were specific demands for the University, but because the minimum wage is an issue that pertains to many students.

“Students have a vested interest in the Fight for $15 as current and/or future workers in what is currently a low wage economy,” Wetzel said. “Many students work low-wage service jobs trying to pay off debt because there aren’t enough well-paying, secure jobs for everyone. This rally isn’t specifically aimed at the administration; it is giving students a voice in the Fight for $15 alongside workers and community supporters because we would all benefit from [a] $15 [minimum wage] and a union.”

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