In this global pandemic it is now apparent that society functions on the backs of essential workers that have held the frontline while we fight COVID-19. Giving these essential workers a livable wage is not only the right thing to do economically but also the moral thing.
The Fight for 15 campaign is built upon 3 demands that we will examine over the next 3 weeks.
DEMAND #1- Recognizing the value of and risk being taken by low wage frontline service workers, especially those risking their health to take care of ours in areas deemed essential by permanently and immediately increasing Saskatchewan's minimum wage to $15.15/hr.
In 2014, the Living Wage for a Regina family with two working parents and two children, ages four and seven, was $16.46 per hour. This wage amounts to a family income of $58,245 annually. To earn this amount both parents work full-time to meet the family’s basic needs and avoid falling below the poverty line. It is now 2020, and we know that costs have risen while the minimum wage remains far below $16.46 per hour.
Our demand to raise the minimum wage to $15.15 is a compromise and even this is proving to be an uphill battle. Business interests have had wild success in convincing both politicians and the public that frontline service workers don't deserve a living wage and that supporting the economy is worth keeping thousands of families in poverty.
There is plenty of evidence that shows the economic benefits of increasing the minimum wage but this isn't what is promoted in advertising and on media that working people have access to.
The Covid-19 crisis has been a blunt demonstration of how essential frontline service work is. Businesses have recognized this by implementing temporary "hazard pay increases" forgetting that just months earlier they held that these workers were replaceable and that they were already giving all they could give.
This "hazard pay" doesn't alleviate the risk of catching Covid-19 nor does it lift minimum wage workers to the Living Wage of $16.46/hr. What is does do is pay slightly more for full-time work than the Canadian CERB benefit in recognition that minimum wage workers struggle living paycheque to paycheque.
Unfortunately, we also know that many employee's scheduled hours are kept lower ensuring they do not qualify for their company's "hazard pay" and that in practice "Hazard Pay" is a nice compassionate slogan used to advertise to the public they are taking care of their frontline essential workers. Internally, several workers in many companies are receiving no added benefits or “hazard pay” increases at all.
Fight for 15 believes workers deserve to earn a livable wage regardless of industry and that it shouldn't take a global pandemic for businesses to pay closer to this rate. Businesses are also demonstrating that they can absolutely pay an increased wage.
Further, many of us are calling frontline service workers heroes for keeping shelves stocked and our needs in check. They absolutely are heroes. As a society, we should pay heroes a livable wage and avoid the appearance that we call them heroes because we expect them to self-sacrifice.
Show your support for frontline workers fighting COVID-19 and keeping the economy alive by signing this petition.