LA women on hunger strike for $15 at mayor’s door

LOS ANGELES – Mothers, grandmothers, and daughters gathered at City Hall here to begin a fast of 15 days telling Mayor Eric Garcetti and members of the city council that their proposal to raise the minimum wage to $13.25 an hour is not enough.

Elena I. Popp, executive director of Eviction Defense Network, reported that the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Out of Reach Study in 2014, “has determined that our families need to earn a minimum of $28 an hour to be able live in Los Angeles.”

Gilda Valdez, president of the campaign for a $15 minimum wage, said, “Women have to take matters into their own hands. Even $15 is not enough to survive, we have to work two or three jobs, and then we have to decide what we can afford to pay each month.

“We are bringing this fight to the doors of the mayor and city council members, telling them what they are proposing is not enough. They have to deal with us,” Valdez said.

Rosie Martinez is the nurse who will monitor the fasters and the impact on their health throughout the 15 days. “I will be here to support them,” Martinez said.

Denise Barlage, a nine-year veteran worker at the now-shuttered Pico Rivera Walmart and one of the fasters,  reported that 530 of her co-workers have been left without a job. Walmart gave its workers at the Pico Rivera store less than five hours notice that they were shutting down the store due to “plumbing problems.”

Workers at the store say, however, tht they suspect the company had other reasons for shutting the store. They note that at that store they have been among the best organized and most vocal groups of workers demanding respect from the big-box giant.

“Many of us don’t know what we are going to do. Walmart will not tell us if they will be placing us in other stores, or when they will reopen; we may have to go on welfare” Barlage said. Walmart is also the loudest voice against raising the minimum wage.

Mari Carmen Fargan, a fast food worker at Burger King, is fasting because “we need the mayor to take action to increase wages to $15 an hour.” A single mother of four, she says $9 an hour is not enough to pay rent and meet her family’s basic needs.

Homer, a young worker at Burger King, told the crowd that he was there to support the women because he sees how hard-working they are as they try to support their families on the salary they make at Burger King. “I see their strength and I want to support them 100 percent,” he said.

The fast is scheduled to end May 1.  If you live in the Los Angeles area you are urged to come on out, talk with them help them to keep their spirits up.

Photo: Rossana Cambron/PW


Rossana Cambron
Rossana Cambron

Rossana Cambron is co-chair of the Communist Party USA. She is active in the peace and immigrant rights movements, enjoys learning about new technology and reading about historical events. She is also a videographer for People's World in Southern California.