While Fresno County is suffering from high unemployment–11.6 percent in February 2015, and 12.0 percent in January 2015–Fresno workers have joined the Fight for $15, a national campaign to raise wages and set the minimum wage to $15.
On Wednesday, according to the Fresno Bee, over 150 people joined other workers around the country marking Tax Day by marching in rallies organized by unions as they demanded the current federal minimum wage of $7.24 an hour be raised, as well as the California $9 minimum wage.
Standing in front of a McDonald’s, the protesters–comprised of home and child care workers, county and state workers, students and community leaders, but no fast-food workers–chanted, “Hold the burgers, hold the fries. Make our wages super-sized.”
Union members from the Services Employees International (SEIU) helped lead the way; one member, Beau Reynolds with SEIU Local 100, told the Bee, “We’re here to stand up. We’re here to join forces and we are here to demand better. To demand better wages, to demand better benefits and to demand the right and respect that all working families deserve.”
According to USA Today, 24/7 Wall Street ranked Fresno as the ninth-worst metro area in the nation regarding unemployment. The data showed Fresno’s 2014 November unemployment rate at 11.2%, its 2013 poverty rate at 28.8%, its 2013 median household income as $43,925, and its 2013 percentage with bachelor’s degree at19.8%. The report added: “Fresno’s poverty rate of nearly 29% was also one of the worst in the country.”