Fight for $15 comes to UVic

UPDATED: March 17, 2015 at 5:25 p.m.

On March 17, proponents and unions gathered outside the SUB to support Fight for $15, a B.C. Federation of Labour sponsored campaign with the goal of raising B.C.’s minimum wage to $15 an hour by the end of 2015. However, organizers of the group did not gain permission to gather on campus and were therefore asked to leave by Campus Security. After going through the proper channels, the group will attempt to gather again next week. Campus Security declined to comment for this story.

Tara Ehrcke, a B.C. public school teacher, is organizing the event at UVic. “Half of all minimum wage workers are people who are adults supporting themselves, and a lot of the time supporting family,” she said in an interview before the event. “[Some are] even seniors who have to keep working if they don’t have retirement income.”

While 120,000 workers in B.C. are being paid the minimum wage, over half a million earn less than $15 an hour. Despite this, even working at the $15 mark is well below the living wage in most of B.C.

Ehrcke stressed that part of their campaign is to break the stigmas surrounding minimum wages. According to her, it is a myth that only teenagers are paid minimum wage, and that raising wages would harm small businesses.

“I just think it’s really unfair that anybody has to work for poverty level wages. We’re a wealthy society,” said Ehrcke. “Anybody who is working and giving up their time and labour deserves to have fair compensation.”

Kenya Rogers, next year’s Director of External Relations, said that this issue is one that is definitely on the UVSS’s radar. “I think living wage is about $18 here,” said Rogers. “When you’re looking at it that way, even at $15 we should be able to get there because we’re not even at living wages yet.”

Rogers felt that a standard $15 an hour is a plausible goal for SUB employees within the coming years and said that it would be brought up at the next collective bargaining agreement.

The fight for higher minimum wages is an ongoing battle. The B.C. government announced a 20 cent increase to minimum wage on Mar. 12, bringing the minimum wage up to $10.45 an hour in September; however, this is still far from the Fight for $15 goal.

Ehrcke called the increase, “laughable,” while noting the problem of increasing a wage to match inflation that is already well below the poverty line. “Really it’s saying they’re going to maintain the minimum below poverty level wages forever. That’s kind of what they said. It’s totally disgraceful.”

For more information on the Victoria fight for $15, visit http://www.fightfor15victoria.ca/

 

4 Comments

Avatar mantasmagorical

what happens to people’s wages who earn more than minimum wage if minimum wage goes up? it seems that following suit and increasing those as well would just create inflation putting us back where we started, but not increasing them seems to decrease their value. i mean, why do i have a degree and work as a professional when the barista down the street makes only $5/hour less than i do? or will i get a decrease in my income taxes because poverty has been reduced, meaning more money in my pocket in the long run? can any economists help me out?

Avatar guest

Good point, mantasmagorical. Fear is the best policy. Let’s never change anything for fear of what may happen!! We certainly wouldn’t want to take money out of the pockets of poor little innocent shareholders just to give to the people who actually do the work.

If the minimum wage from 1968 kept pace with inflation, it would be $25 right now, and everything back then was cheap. So what is your EVIDENCE that what your saying would actually happen? Because the evidence of history tells us the contrary. In fact, the evidence in Scandinavian countries can tell us the contrary right now. When everybody makes more, everybody spends more. And the cost of living isn’t tied to minimum wage, it’s tied to maximum wage (for lack of a better term). Stop regurgitating corporate rhetoric, stop drinking the koolaid, and stop the fear mongering BS.

Avatar mantasmagorical

hi “guest”. thank you for your kind and thoughtful response. i appreciate you taking the time to put your omniscience to good use and addressing my honest question. personally, i’m for the increase in minimum wage, so your evidence will be put to good use. good luck pulling that thorn out of your side.

Avatar guest

I was one of the original employees at Silver City when the minimum wage was $7.65. Then it went to $8 for over 10 years while rents and everything else skyrocketed. I had to work my ass off at 2-3 jobs, including the Army Reserve, and I could barely afford to eat. Spend over a decade trying to live a life off of minimum wage and you’ll have a thorn in your side too. Then feel the frustration when people fall for it when Gordon Campbell, Christy Clark, etc. go on TV and tell everyone that raising minimum wage will “hurt the economy” or “hurt small business.” Fast food chains are making record profits for shareholders, then turning around and saying they can’t pay people more than minimum. Private business owners say the same thing then speed off in their Mercedes’. I’m in my early 30s now, and last summer I was making $9 per hour because I was a server. A dollar more than when I was 20.

Sorry for snapping, but the whole situation is getting ridiculously out of hand, and the conversation is STILL going in circles thanks to the advertising budgets of the most corrupt political parties. And just to put the cherry on the parfait, we now have an entire demographic who thinks not-voting will somehow make things better. I’m glad you’re for the increase, and I hope that means you vote. If you don’t vote, you are HELPING certain political parties stay in power.

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