'Fight for 15' activists call for minimum wage increase

- Fight-for-15 activists staged Labor Day rallies throughout the country Monday, including at least two  in Tampa Bay.

The first demonstration was in Ybor City where protestors, many of them fast food industry workers,  gathered at 6 a.m.

"We're asking for less than the bare minimum," said Bleu Rainer, 28, who works three low-paying jobs  and has been homeless several times. "It's just myself alone. If I had kids, I don't think I would be  able to take care of them."

The demands of many of the protestors, including those in Tampa, have evolved since the Fight for 15  campaign started.

Rainer said low-wage workers want to be able to unionize, believing that would give them a better  chance at getting and keeping a minimum wage hike.

"We're wanting unions and we want them now," he said, adding Labor Day has taken on a new meaning  this year. "It used to be like we'd go and we'd have cookouts with our families and we enjoy the  family time and ow it's way more important than that. It reminds me how MLK paved the way for us with  the Civil Rights movement and it's like our duty to continue those things and make sure that we succeed in getting a union for all low-wage workers in this state and in the United States of  America."

Hours after the Ybor City rally, city workers in St. Petersburg also banded together to push for a minimum  wage increase for non-city workers, including contractors.

"I think it's pretty obvious that a lot of families are struggling, especially when the majority of  jobs that we've added in the last few years have been minimum wage jobs, or very low-earning jobs,"  said Cricket Logan, one of the protestors.

Other rallies in the U.S. took place in large cities like Miami, Chicago and Arizona.

Economists, however, have been cautious when approaching the $15 minimum wage issue. A 2015  University of New Hampshire study found that nearly three-quarters of economists in the U.S. oppose a  $15 federal minimum wage, citing concerns that such a salary increase would force a lot of small  businesses to close.
 

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