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Movement for $15 minimum wage picks up steam in Columbus

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Seattle's approval of a $15 minimum wage last month — an effort spearheaded by socialist city council member Kshama Sawant — is energizing the movement across the U.S. for a living wage. Advocates are pushing for $15 an hour in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, St. Petersburg, and other cities.

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15 Now – Columbus is dedicated to grassroots organizing for the same goal. They held a demonstration in the fast-food district bordering the Ohio State University on March 15, and collaborated with other organizations to make the $15 wage a prominent theme in this year's May Day rally in downtown Columbus. 100 new supporters signed up with 15 Now – Columbus at the Columbus Pride Festival, and 300 signed up over Comfest weekend.

Many have argued that the $10.10 federal minimum wage proposed by President Obama doesn't represent a living wage. Economist John Schmitt has pointed out that if the minimum wage was tied to productivity instead of inflation, it would be at over $21 today.

A coalition of progressive organizations is looking at potential ways to raise the minimum wage in Columbus, including organizing low-wage workers, a City Council resolution, and a ballot initiative. The coalition includes low-wage workers, union representatives, lobbyists, International Socialist Organization – Columbus, Democratic Socialists of Central Ohio, the Columbus chapter of Communist Party USA, and 15 Now – Columbus.

For more information about the coalition, send an email to RaiseTheWageColumbus@gmail.com. To contact 15 Now – Columbus, send an email to 15nowcolumbusoh@gmail.com.

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