Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Minimum Wage March: NYC FIGHT FOR $15 In Pictures

The McDonald's restaurant on 71st Street, pictured below, was the designated site for the second leg of the April 15, 2015 minimum wage demonstrations. The first leg took place in downtown Brooklyn in the early morning, and the demonstrators--many of whom were McDonald's workers from other states--then marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to arrive at leg two by 12:00, noon.

My first half-dozen photos were taken before the arrival of the main body of marchers. Several representatives were already on site, as was the media. Then, their ranks swelled significantly with the arrival of the Brooklyn contingent. 

The demonstration on West 71st Street was peaceful and orderly. As far as I could tell, the city police refrained from any overt confrontations, even though people packed the sidewalk, shoulder-to-shoulder, for an entire block. At some point, the demonstrators lay down on the sidewalk for a ten-minute "die-in," after which they dispersed until re-gathering in mid-afternoon at Central Park West and Columbus Circle.

From there, they would march, in the early evening, to McDonald's flagship store on Times Square. I did not document this final leg, but here is one of many reports that did. 

McDonald's, 2049 Broadway (at West 71st Street), Site of the Noon Die-In, April 15, 2015

The reason for focusing on McDonald's is that it is an American icon, and fast food workers are among the lowest-paid of American workers, even if "McWorkers" earns slightly better than those at Burger King and Wendy's. 

Besides this, consider the fact that the average McDonald's restaurant makes twice as much as Burger King, its closest competitor. Years of low pay enabled McDonald's to become the world's largest fast-food franchise.   This is reason enough to focus on the franchise.

McDonald's, 2049 Broadway, Laundry Workers, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Laundry Workers were just one among many unions which threw their support behind fast-food workers in calling for a $15 minimum wage.

McDonald's, 2049 Broadway, Freedom Fighters Hoodie,  Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

McDonald's, 2049 Broadway, Timothy (from Milwaukee), Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

The "hoodies" worn by these young people indicate that something new is afoot. Most of these people were not local New Yorkers, and they traveled here from many states; yet they wear the same, new hoodies which sport references to several, separate events. Besides the logo of the April 15 demonstration, "Fight For $15," we read "I Can't Breathe," "Black Lives Matter," and "Hands Up, Don't Shoot." 

Clearly, for this April 15th event, two of America's major social problems, racism and income inequality have joined forces. Behind this alliance, so we learn, is an event that took place three-and-one-half weeks earlier;  members of the Black Lives Matter campaign traveled to the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Charlotte, NC to meet with Fight For $15 organizers. Add to this event the fact that the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has put money and support into the minimum wage movement, and it becomes clear that quite a few, disparate organizations are now working together to promote social justice.

As Mary Kay Henry, the SEIU president observed, this "is no longer an internal debate."  Or, as John Kotter, writing for the corporate world, would put it, expand your horizons and opportunities, "bring the outside in" by "breaking down silos."

McDonald's, 2049 Broadway, Bleu (from Tampa), Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Bleu took time off from his job at a McDonald's in Tampa, FL to join the day's events. His Tampa job pays him $8.05 and hour! 

As another fast food worker told Chris Hayes and others at msnbc in September, 2013, "On $8.00 an hour, it's hard to enjoy even simple things like Christmas."  Might we not assume that, in earning such a paltry amount a year-and-a-half later, Bleu enjoys even fewer simple things?

McDonald's, 2049 Broadway, Shantel (from Brooklyn), Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Shantel now earns a bit more (than Bleu) at her fast-food job in Brooklyn, $9.00 an hour, as I overheard her tell this reporter. But then, she described her job as one of "high demand, low pay and very disrespectful."

 In an interview in January with msnbc's Emma Margolin, Shantel said she was not afraid of being punished for participating in work strikes: "I can't make it on this type of income," she said...."the punishment is making this type of money." 

McDonald's, 2049 Broadway, Black Lives Matter, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Black Lives Matter, or #BlackLivesMatter, began as a national movement after the July, 2013 acquittal of George Zimmerman for the murder of the unarmed teenager, Trayvon Martin, in Sanford, FL. 

On its webpage, the movement defines #BlackLivesMatter as "a call to action and a response to the virulent anti-Black racism that permeates our society."

Black Lives Matter has started a public story bank and is now inviting anybody to contribute a one- or two-minute recording which begins with the phrase: "In a world where Black Lives Matter, I imagine..."

McDonald's, 2049 Broadway, Vocal-NY, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

VOCAL-NY stands for Voices Of Community Activists & Leaders. It focuses on low-income people, particularly those caught in the drug war, those threatened by mass incarceration, and those afflicted by HIV/AIDS.  Its goal is to help them build healthy communities.

McDonald's, 2049 Broadway, Communities for Change, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

New York Communities for Change (NYCC) has over 45,000 members, all from either low or moderate income families. In particular, it fights for giving workers paid sick days and a living wage.

McDonald's, 2049 Broadway, Trabajadores Unidos, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

McDonald's, 2049 Broadway, We See Greed, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

McDonald's, 2049 Broadway, En Huelga..., Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Translated, this sign reads: On strike for better wages, better neighborhoods, and stronger families.

McDonald's, 2049 Broadway, Imagine Justice, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

McDonald's, 2049 Broadway, We Deserve So Much More, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

To paraphrase this sign, a $15/hour minimum wage may not be "so much more," but these demonstrators "deserve" this, at least. 

In a HuffPost article written earlier this month, Dave Jamieson interviewed several SeaTac shuttle drivers whose wages just increased from ca. $9.55/hour to $15.00/hour. The difference in pay changed their lives, in that they finally could spend some time with their children, renew time for sports and recreation, and give up a second job that amounted to a brutal 80 hour work week. 

In other words, the jump to $15/hour enabled them to live meaningful lives as human beings once again.

McDonald's, 2049 Broadway, Unite for What Is Right, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

McDonald's, 2049 Broadway, Laurie (from Brooklyn), Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

"Wage slavery" is an old term, but it is taking on a renewed relevance today as 24 Republican-dominated states now have anti-union "right to work" laws and America's low-wage workers lack any bargaining power with their employers.

"Demand More" is what the April 15th protests in over 200 American cities and several other countries around the world are about.  And as one group chanted at a mic check at a Midtown McDonald's in the early evening, the "more" was not limited to salary and wages: "Our fight is one fight. Workers fighting for $15 and a union are fighting for system change. Climate activists are fighting for system change. We're here because we're ready to fight together for sustainable jobs and a sustainable world."

Sustainable jobs and a sustainable world will be a distant pipe dream if America elects a Republican president in 2016.  GOP presidential candidates are against raising the minimum wage or are against even having a national minimum wage, and all (so far) remain climate skeptics if not outright deniers. 

By the way, the building seen in the upper left corner is The Dorilton, a lavish Beaux-Arts apartment building that was completed in 1902.

McDonald's, 2049 Broadway, Steve (from the Bronx), Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

McDonald's, 2049 Broadway, The Die-In Begins, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

McDonald's, 2049 Broadway, The Die-In, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

McDonald's, 2049 Broadway, Police Make a Path, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Central Park West, Advance Guard: NYPD, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Central Park West, Advance Guard: Three Suits, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Central Park West, Getting Ready: 15, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Central Park West, Getting Ready: and a Union, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Central Park West, Getting Ready: Angry Big Macs, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Central Park West, Getting Ready: Lining Up, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Central Park West, Central Park: Merchants' Gate, Frederick Law Olmsted & Calvert Vaux, 1862 ff

How fitting that the afternoon gathering took place on Central Park West, just north of Columbus Circle. After all, this entrance to Central Park is named the Merchant's Gate, and it is chiefly merchants who are paying the (inadequate) wages of these demonstrators.

Central Park has 20 entrance gates, and in 1862 a Commissioners' Committee proposed that each entrance should be named to embody, by profession, the people of New York City as a whole. This gathering would have lost some of its symbolic meaning were it in front of the Hunters' or Miners' Gates, wouldn't you say?

Central Park West, Getting Ready: Poverty Wages, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Directly across the street from the Merchants' Gate is 1 Central Park West, Trump International.  This sleek tower, 44 stories high, was built in 1969 but completely redesigned and re-sheathed by Philip Johnson and Costas Kondylis in 1997.  Of its 156 residential units, the average purchase price is close to $4.2 million; for those units that are rentals, the average rent is $16,500/month.

As the balloon floating in front of Trump International states, "Poverty Wages Don't Fly!" Nor could any of the demonstrating workers even afford a one-minute rental in one of its units. And, naturally, Donald Trump as well as almost every Republican presidential candidate is adamantly against any government-mandated increase in the minimum wage for which they are demonstrating.

Central Park West, Getting Ready: Tony (from Brooklyn), Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Central Park West, Getting Ready: Todos Estamos..., Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Boxes of signs awaiting distribution to marchers. The one in the center foreground reads: We all are better (off) when all (lives) are improved.

Central Park West: Getting Ready: Rent Won't Wait, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

As New York City rents increased by 18% since 2000, incomes have fallen some 7%.  These economic realities contribute to the desperation of workers and working families. And so, 15 Now has joined in the demand of $15 an hour for all workers.

Central Park West, Getting Ready: Sombrero, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Biding time before the march begins, this gentleman reads some literature from the Peoples Power Assemblies. It calls for a May Day 2015 gathering in Union Square.

The text in black background near the bottom reads: 

This May Day we ALL must take to the streets. As workers, as women, as people of color, as immigrants, as students, as homeless, as tenants--from Ayotzinapa to Ferguson, from Palestine to NYC--we come together on May 1st from many diverse struggles, places, & backgrounds to stand UNITED and say ENOUGH.

Central Park West, Getting Ready: McWorker, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Central Park West, Getting Ready: McWorker, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

McDonald's may not actually eat its workers, but some of its behavior towards them comes pretty close. Here are just three examples:

1.  Some 291 workers who came to McDonald's through the State Department's J-1visa program for cultural exchange successfully sued the corporation for forced 25-hour shifts, no overtime pay, rooming on bunk-beds in the boss' basement at high rent, and sometimes very few hours of work/week even when promised full-time employment. 

2.  Manhattan workers were forced to work in 110-degree conditions, even after complaining of dizziness and getting sick. 

3.  Ten workers in Virginia were fired because the owner said the stores were "too dark" and he needed to "get the ghetto out."

Central Park West, Getting Ready: The JumboTron, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Central Park West, Getting Ready: Scott Stringer, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

New York City's Comptroller, Scott Stringer, encouraged the crowd. He has championed equal rights for all New Yorkers, has fought for the rights of immigrants, and is a supporter of the DREAM Act

Stringer also has shown his bona fides by fighting the Wall Street Bankers who have been "managing" the City's pension funds, charging exorbitant fees, and leaving the funds with little or no growth.

Central Park West, Getting Ready: Pastor Michael A. Walrond, Jr., Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Michael Walrond, Senior Pastor of the First Corinthian Baptist Church, aroused the crowd with an eloquent speech in which he linked today's workers and the "masses yearning to breathe free" of  Emma Lazarus' The New Colossus.

I was deeply moved, but had no means to take any notes. My hope was that he had a text. Alas, as with so many of our best orators, he spoke without a note.

Even if I have no text to quote from nor a YouTube to link to for the Pastor's speech on this day, I offer you this 13:00 link, "I can't breathe," in reference to Eric Garner. I also take the liberty of quoting one section of this because of the way in which Pastor Walrond exposes a glaring contradiction in how we embrace our historical past. Every adherent of the Tea Party ought to watch these entire thirteen minutes:

It was ironic that Eric Garner was the target by police for the selling of what we know as ‘loosies.’ In part the reason why brothers and sisters sell ‘loosies’ is because of the high tax rate on cigarettes. There’s something very ironic about someone whose action was trying to subvert what was viewed as high taxes. And in case you don’t understand why it is familiar, in 1773 this country was born by a subversive movement against high taxes; and so it is amazing how a country born in revolution and subversion against over-priced tea would now consider a criminal and kill a man who is trying to subvert over-priced cigarettes. There’s something ironic that he would be choked to death. The truth is that many people of color in this country have been choking for a long time.

Columbus Circle, The March Begins, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Columbus Circle, The March Begins: Hotel Trades, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Columbus Circle, The March Begins: 15, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Columbus Circle, Time Warner Center, 2000-03, SOM: David Childs & Mustafa Kemal Abadan, detail

As the march began its final leg, departing from Central Park West at 59th Street and heading down Broadway, there was no avoiding the gaze of any occupants luxuriously ensconced in the Time Warner Center, holder of the highest listed market value in New York City.

Quite a few of the owners of Time Warner units are wealthy Americans: Wall Street Traders, Corporate CEOs, some doctors and lawyers, some celebrities.  However, more and more are even wealthier foreigners who think nothing of purchasing a unit for $25-45 million and up through elaborate shell companies which cover their identity. 

New York Times research team has partially unmasked some of them: the Russian billionaire, Andrey Vavilov; a Russian Banker, Vitaly Malkin; a Greek businessman, Dimitrios Contominas; a Chinese Contractor, Wang Wenliang.

Rarely do these foreign owners live in their units.  Some units sit dark.  Others are rented.  Still, there is life in the Time Warner Center: an ostentatious life of wealth and privilege.  As the marchers pass below, it's hard not to contemplate the ever-growing economic disparity--the have-nots on the street, the haves up in the towers.

We may never know what the "haves" are muttering as they look down on the teeming demonstrators, the "have-nots."   However, one wealthy celebrity, Alec Baldwin (who lives in Greenwich Village) voiced his displeasure on Twitter when this final leg blocked traffic and made him late for something or other.  One would think that he could set aside his needs for these more destitute.  After all, he has played enough down-and-out characters from the other side of the tracks, like Freddy Prinze or Mob Boss Shelly.  But, then, maybe too many of his characters also had a bit of a nasty streak.  Alec is a good liberal.  Unfortunately, on the afternoon of on April 15, he assumed the wrong character.

Columbus Circle, The March: Hotel Trades Council, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Columbus Circle, The March: Hotel Trades Council, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

The New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council has represented most of the non-managerial employees in the hotel trade for over 75 years.  Ever since its beginnings in 1939, it has banned discrimination in employment, and it remains an important actor within the civil rights movement.  

Columbus Circle, The March: Make the Road, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Make the Road New York (MRNY), has served the working class Latino community of New York for close to twenty years.

Columbus Circle, The March: Ronald McDonald, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Might Ronald McDonald, that smiling clown, possess a second, more sinister, persona? After all, McDonald's shirks responsibility for its workers;  it mis-uses government programs in order to rescue its own floundering, under-paid workers;  it lobbies lavishly to fight minimum wage increases;  and it avoids paying its rightful share of taxes.

Not only has McDonald's lobbied directly in opposition to raising the minimum wage, but it also is a member of the National Restaurant Association, which (in 2012) contributed $4 million to this indefensible effort.

The low wages at McDonald's and other fast-food chains is a given.  But then, McDonald's offers its workers a service it calls McResource.  As one CNN reporter learned, McResource representatives directly advise workers who can't "make ends meet" in how best to apply to various government agencies for food stamps, heating assistance, and even gives its workers the locations of food pantries.

Fifty-two percent of fast-food-worker families depend upon public assistance programs, costing the taxpayer nearly $7 billion/year.  Not only does McDonald depend on this subsidy as it advises its struggling workers, but its workers top the list of those who fall back on government programs.

Finally, even though it is hardly the only corporation to do this, McDonald's has managed to dodge paying over 1 billion Euros ($1.13 billion) in taxes to the European Union, which is now investigating it. 

Columbus Circle, The March: Wal-Mart Smiley Face, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Wal-Mart is the world's largest company by revenue and the world's largest private employer (2.2 million people).  As such, it can give McDonald's more than a run for its money (pardon the pun).  In fact, when it comes to workers receiving government subsidies, a 2013 study found that a single Wal-Mart store in Wisconsin paid its workers so little that they needed $1 million in public benefits in order to survive.

Nationwide, this private-sector, family-owned business enjoys a U.S. government wage subsidy of $2.66 billion/year. As reported in Bloomberg View two months ago, "Wal-Mart has become the nation's largest private-sector beneficiary of taxpayer-supported public assistance." 

Wal-Mart and McDonald's, together, are "the two biggest welfare queens in America today," as Barry Ritholtz wrote in an article for Bloomberg View in November, 2013.

Interestingly, the smiley face that Wal-Mart would like to consider as exclusively its own, was originally developed in 1963 for an insurance company by a Massachusetts designer named Harvey Ross Ball.  In 1971, a French reporter, Franklin Loufrani developed a slightly different version.  Patent lawsuits appear to have reached some sort of settlement, and Smiley, now also an emoticon, has clearly risen beyond his Wal-Mart throne (above) to the status of free world citizen.

Columbus Circle, The March: Communist Party Flag, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

America always has had a troubled relationship to the Communist Party, particularly after the onset of the Cold War.  Nevertheless, the Communist Party USA, which was established in 1919, played a not insignificant role during its first twenty years in the expansion of the American middle class. The Communist Party was a major actor in the founding of the first industrial unions which succeeded in raising wages for all workers;  it was a major defender of the civil rights of black Americans;  it opposed racism and pushed for integration in the workplace and in the community; and it was among the first organizations to push for women's equality and what today would be called "comparable worth" in the workplace.

However, after the late 1940s, a form of virulent anti-Communism emerged in America, characterized by the paranoid, demagogic and reckless Joseph McCarthy. From this time forward, words like "communism" and "socialism" would become interchangeable and synonymous with something "anti-American."  Americans of a wide range of political persuasion found it difficult to simply use these terms in any neutral way.

Even today, we encounter the distortion of political discourse begun by Joseph McCarthy in regard to words like "communism" and "socialism."   Take Aaron Klein's 2010 book on Obama, The Manchurian President: Barack Obama's Ties to Communists, Socialists and Other Anti-American Extremists.  Take the several examples of anti-Communist political rhetoric from a 2013 article by Marc Brodine.   Take Elspeth Reeve's 2013 article in The Wire on Ted Cruz (who I think sounds like McCarthy reborn), "Ted Cruz Sees Communists." 

Today's Communist Party USA is based in New York City, and its presence can be seen at most every social and political demonstration. Yet, in past blog posts in which I have covered demonstrations, I was conscious of a reluctance to focus on them. Such was the effectiveness of seventy years of conservative political demagoguery and its abuse of words like "socialism" and "communism."  Even I, a liberal and progressive, felt cowed and chose to avoid "conflict."

So in this, my extended commentary below my photograph of the flag of the New York State Communist Party, I begin to make amends.  The Communists belong to us and with us as much as anybody else.  I invite you to open this link to the Party's Constitution and read its Preamble. With the exception of our most rigid Republicans and conservatives, few could argue with what it says.  I conclude with the opening sentence of its final paragraph: "Our organizational practices are based on democracy, equality, unity of action and transparency."

Columbus Circle, The March: We All Do Better, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

We all do better when we ALL do better may be thought of as a truism, even if unattainable, particularly in an America in which economic disparity has increased even beyond that of the "Gilded Age."  It is, in fact, an idea which stands on the other end of the spectrum from Gordon Gekko's "Greed is Good" idea.

Today in America, fourteen (14) people made more money than our country's entire Food Stamp Budget for 50,000,000 people. Or, to bring this disparity closer to home--New York City for me--the $28.5 billion in bonuses handed out by Wall Street Banks to their 167,800 employees last year "is double the annual pay for all 1,007,000 Americans who work full-time at the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour." Put another way, this bonus pool, which is separate from any base salary, would provide all 2.2 million fast-food workers a salary of $15/hour, for which they are marching!

We can make sure that everyone does better. We can make sure that we ALL do better. All we need do is rein-in a bit of our individual egoism (greed) to better serve all the citizens of our country. Didn't Jean-Jacques Rousseau propose this in his Social Contract of 1762?  

But then, 21st-century America is a long way from the Age of Enlightenment....or is it? 

Labor Secretary Tom Perez, Senator Tom Harkin (D, IA), and Representative George Miller (D, CA), argued this past October that raising the minimum wage (merely to $10.10/hour) would take 3.6 million people off of food stamp rolls; this modest increase would boost consumer demand, significantly grow our economy and promote thriving communities. As they see it, with very little effort, ALL can do better.

Columbus Circle, The March: Workers United, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Columbus Circle, The March: Homecare Workers, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Due to what is called a "companionship exemption," homecare workers aren't even guaranteed to make the minimum wage. This results in nearly 40% of them being forced to apply for public benefits.  Their median earnings are a paltry $13,000/year

Columbus Circle, The March: Grocery Workers, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Grocery workers also struggle to make a living wage, particularly because they and their union, the United Food & Commercial Workers International (UCFW), finds itself in direct competition with "anti-worker chains like Wal-Mart...which bring down industry standards."

Columbus Circle, The March: Peoples Power Assemblies, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

The Peoples Power Assemblies is a coalition which fights for a broad range of social issues

Columbus Circle, The March: The Workmen's Circle, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

The Workmen's Circle identifies its promotion of social activism to the fact that it isa Jewish organization. It is dedicated to creating a shenere un besere velt far ale, a "better and more beautiful world for all"

Columbus Circle, The March: Faculty Forward, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Columbus Circle, The March: Unionization without Retaliation, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Columbus Circle, The March: Unionization without Retaliation, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

There are probably thousands of examples of business and corporate owner retaliating agains unions, even if the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 prohibited such acts. Two recent ones involve Wal-Mart and Burger King

Columbus Circle, The March: UPS Fired Me, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

I have no idea what the issue is, being referenced by this black t-shirt.

Columbus Circle, The March: Yankee Fan, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Columbus Circle, The March: Man in Beret, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Columbus Circle, The March: Making the Rich Richer, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Columbus Circle, The March: Man in Plaid Flat Cap, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Columbus Circle, The March: I Am Present, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Columbus Circle, The March: Woman in Batik Bandana, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Columbus Circle, The March: Enough Is Enough, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

On the one hand, Enough Is Enough simply means putting one's foot down and saying, "all workers need to be paid a living wage; stop your indefensible rationalizations and at least raise the minimum wage to $15/hour."

On the other hand, Enough Is Enough is the title of a book published in 2012 by Rob Dietz and Dan O'Neill which outlines what we (the world) must do if--in the words of its subtitle--we are to build "a sustainable economy in a world of finite resources." At least two of their strategies bear  a relation to the purpose of this march:  creating jobs and reducing inequality.

But Dietz and O'Neill posit what many will consider a radical economy, one in which the goal is enough, not more.   Or, as O'Neill stated in a TED Talk in June of 2014 (12:51), in order to improve everyone's life, we must move "from the madness of more to the economics of enough."

Columbus Circle, The March: Gotcha, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Columbus Circle, The March: Oooooh, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Columbus Circle, The March: The Band, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Columbus Circle, The March: Fight for $15 on 4/15, Fight For $15, April 15, 2015

Let me end on an optimistic note, as anomalous as it may be. In Seattle, just two days before the April 15 March, Dan Price, the CEO of Gravity Payments, announced to his staff of 120 people that, over the next three years, the salary of every worker would be raised to a minimum of $70,000/year. In other words, as the New York Times headline put it: "One Company’s New Minimum Wage: $70,000 a Year."

The following week, in the aftermath of this announcement, Dan Price said that his company received a groundswell of new clients, making that the best week for new business in the company's 11-year existence.

Maybe more businesses will come to realize that generosity trumps greed, as this example would suggest.