Hundreds of people, including a number of officials, have been arrested across the United States for taking part in protests calling for a higher national minimum wage and more labour union rights, organisers say.
Demonstrations affiliated with “Fight for $15” – a US-based international movement seeking a minimum wage of $15-per hour for low-paid workers – took place on Tuesday in hundreds of US cities, including the commercial hubs of New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles.
It was the largest Fight for $15 day of demonstration since the movement was launched in 2012. Protests were planned in 340 US cities and at 20 airports across the country.
A minimum wage is the lowest remuneration that employers may legally pay to workers. Equivalently, it is the price floor below which workers may not sell their labor. Although minimum wage laws are in effect in many jurisdictions, differences of opinion exist about the benefits and drawbacks of a minimum wage. Supporters of the minimum wage say it increases the standard of living of workers, reduces poverty, reduces inequality, boosts morale and forces businesses to be more “efficient”. In contrast, opponents of the minimum wage say it increases poverty, increases unemployment (particularly among unskilled or inexperienced workers) and is damaging to businesses, because excessively high minimum wages require businesses to raise the prices of their product or service to accommodate the extra expense of paying a higher wage.