By David Gangsei, Ph.D.
On 1/12/17, a cloudy, cool, and rainy Thursday, four SD350 members (Mark, Karen, Tyson, and myself) took part in a rally organized by the labor coalition, Fight for $15, to protest the nomination of Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. CEO Andy Puzder for Secretary of Labor in the Trump administration. Thirty spirited protesters gathered for the rally, held at the Carl’s Jr. located at 3008 El Cajon Blvd.
Speakers included two minimum wage workers, Simone and Danielle, Fight for $15 organizer Emiliana Sparaco, Rabbi Shai Cherry representing the Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice, and Dr. Peter Brownell from the Center for Policy Initiatives. Themes addressed included the necessity of a higher minimum wage, the destructive working conditions faced by Carl’s Jr. and other fast food workers, the documented history of labor abuses and official findings against Carl’s Jr., and the moral imperative to treat all people with fairness and justice. Recent CPI research shows that $20/hr is needed in San Diego to cover our higher cost of living – and the current CA minimum wage is $11/hr. Simone and Danielle said they must have government assistance to make ends meet. What this means is that the government is subsidizing not only fast food industry labor, but all minimum wage jobs.
Protesters called for the withdrawal or defeat of Puzder’s nomination, based on his documented opposition to minimum wage increases and other anti-worker attitudes and actions. The signs we carried stated that Puzder makes more in one day than his minimum wage workers make in a year.
Among the energetic chants: “Carl’s Jr. CEO/Labor Department…NO GO!” & “Hold the burgers, hold the fries/No to Puzder and his lies!” The rally on the sidewalk outside the restaurant attracted passersby, numerous honks from supportive motorists, and was followed by a march inside the restaurant where more chants and speeches by Simone and Danielle repeated themes and affirmed solidarity with the minimum wage workers at the site.
We participated in this rally as part of SD350’s strategy for building our movement for prioritizing climate change, for preventing its most destructive potential effects. Another recent example was the November 29 Justice Can’t Wait march and rally downtown. Our collective efforts are multiplied when we build coalitions where advocates for different issues recognize that justice is an overarching principle guiding different objectives, that we are all stronger when we support each others causes.
David Gangsei has volunteered with San Diego 350 since January 2016 and is active on the Public Policy Team. He is a clinical psychologist whose career has focused on mental health and human rights. From 2000 – 2008, he served as Clinical Director of the San Diego non-profit organization Survivors of Torture, International, overseeing psychological, medical, social and legal services to asylum seekers, refugees and other torture survivors from over 50 countries.Google+