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Yesterday evening approximately one thousand people gathered in Theiss Park in Kansas City for a rally and march in support of increasing the hourly minimum wage. The organizers and crowd included a mix of food service and service industry workers, organized labor, university students and adjunct faculty, faith leaders, and Kansas City office holders.

“Justice for janitors.”

The event was organized by Stand Up KC, as part of a national movement:

We are fast food and retail workers from across KC coming together to demand good wages and a voice for low-wage workers.

Today, 48,000 Kansas Citians are employed in some of the world’s largest and most profitable fast food and retail corporations. But they work in our city’s worst paying jobs.

The average fast food worker is now 28 years old and the average retail worker is 38. Both make about $7.35/hour, have no healthcare, no paid sick days or vacation pay, and face daily discrimination. Top brands like McDonald’s make $5.4 billion in profit, pay their CEO $14 million, and have over 500 locations city-wide. It would take the average retail worker 823 years to earn what Walgreens CEO Greg Wasson earns in a year.

But fast food and retail workers won’t accept these facts any longer. Right now fast food and retail workers are sticking together to fight for higher pay so they can afford basic needs, like groceries, housing and transportation.

Stand with us as we stand up for our city and our futures!

Kansas City Mayor Sly James spoke at the rally:

Kansas City Mayor Sly James.

Kansas City Mayor Sly James: ….The one thing that we always must remember is, is that nothing is going to happen unless we act together. If we do not act together we will be picked off one by one, separated, culled from the herd, and nothing will happen.

The only things that have changed the course of history in this country have been when people who believed in something fervently, people who are willing to give up their lives for it, people who are willing to devote their treasure to it, combined with others to do the same thing and stuck together until it happened.

[….]

It is immoral, it is unjust, it is unreasonable, it is unforgivable, it is unexplainable that we all live in the richest, most powerful, best country in the world and people work forty hours a week and cannot feed their families. People work forty hours a week and cannot put food on the table, cannot buy the clothes that they need, cannot take care of their children’s needs, cannot access health care, cannot do things that other people do and take for granted. It is time for us to recognize that and it is time for it to stop.

[….]

“Good jobs and $15 for all.”

“…it is a crime for people to live in this rich nation and receive starvation wages.”

After a relatively brief rally with speeches the crowd marched from the park through the neighborhood and up to the University of Missouri – Kansas City campus.

The start of the march.

“One world, one fight.”