(BCN/KTVU) - Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) kicked off Labor Day with a call to raise the minimum wage, as unions throughout the nation and Bay Area took to the streets to demand a national $15/hr. minimum wage.
In San Jose, union workers wearing red hopped on buses, chanting "Yes we can!" in Spanish, channeling the late labor activist Cesar Chavez. In Oakland, union workers dressed in purple beat drums chanting for fair wages in what is being billed as the "Fight for Fifteen."
Lee did not put a specific number on her plea, but in a statement, she said, "in communities across this nation, discrimination and institutional barriers are holding wages stagnant and restricting opportunity. Sadly, women and communities of color bear the brunt of these structural barriers preventing prosperity.
“Today, women earn only 77 percent of every dollar paid to white men. This disparity is even worse for women of color, with African American women earning 60 cents for every dollar a white man makes and Latinas earning a mere 54 cents on the dollar. And as income inequality balloons, far too many Americans are forced to live off of poverty wages that can’t meet their basic needs without assistance."
Union members marched thorugh downtown Oakland starting at 9 a.m., who then hosted a rally at Frank Ogawa Plaza. The San Francisco Labor Council, the Alameda Labor Council and SEIU also joined in.
In San Jose, members of SEIU Local 521 caravaned to protest at various South Bay locations before holding a Labor Day picnic at the SEIU office on Zanker Road at noon.
In Watsonville, SEIU members and the Monterey Bay Central Labor Council marched through Watsonville, stopping at various locations, according to organizers, who said this event focuses on workers' right to