This post first appeared at Common Dreams.
As thousands of low-paid workers staged demonstrations across the US on Tuesday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) spoke to a Fight for $15 rally in Washington, DC to credit their movement with recent victories and reiterate his support for a $15 federal minimum wage.
“Thank you all for coming out and standing up for justice, standing up for dignity and for saying loudly and clearly that people in this country that work 40 hours a week deserve a living wage,” Sanders, who is running for president as a Democrat, told the crowd as they marched in the rain on Capitol Hill.
Among those who walked off the job on Tuesday to demand a livable wage and the right to unionize were US Senate cafeteria workers, who are employed as federal contractors — which means they get few benefits and no bargaining rights.
“What you are doing and workers all over the United States are doing, you are having a profound impact,” Sanders said. “People are raising the minimum wage to 15 bucks an hour. And you know who started it? You did. You started the movement.”
“Now we’ve got to finish the job,” he said. “Fifteen bucks and a union.”
Organized under the banner Come Get My Vote, they day of action saw workers in at least 270 cities nationwide walk off the job, while nearly 500 cities hosted strikes and rallies outside their respective city halls, to mark the official year-long countdown to next year’s presidential elections.
“We can’t wait,” Latifah Trezvant, a McDonald’s employee from Kansas City, Missouri, toldthe news website Attn. “We’ve got one message for anyone running for office in 2016, whether it’s for dogcatcher or president: Come get our vote.”
Sanders has previously introduced a bill into Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour, up from its current $7.25. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also supports higher pay, but has been hesitant to embrace $15 an hour, instead pushing for $12.
Showing her support for struggling low-wage workers on Tuesday, Clinton sent a tweet.