Jorel Ware, 36, is the #FifteenFighter, the face and one of the leaders of the Fight for 15 in New York City – a movement that has spread across the US and is changing low-wage worker’s lives.
When Jorel Ware was arrested for going on strike and stopping the traffic on New York City’s 8th Avenue in November 2012, his supervisors at McDonald’s laughed at him.
“They said they couldn’t believe I was so stupid,” he said. Almost four years later, Ware is the one who’s laughing.
He’s one of the leaders of the Fight for 15, a movement that has spread all over the US and is changing low-wage worker’s lives.
“We’ve changed the whole concept of living wage,” said Ware. “We’re changing the world.”
Ware’s sentence is not overestimated. After achieving raises for fast-food workers, the movement’s ambitions grew. In 2016, California and New York approved plans for raising the minimum wage to $15/hour, putting more pressure for a raise in the federal minimum wage – which is backed by democrat senator Bernie Sanders.
Ware’s days start at 1am, when he leaves his parent’s house in the Bronx to work at his night shifts at a McDonald’s on Times Square. When the sun is up, it’s time for him to join the movement’s leaders on meetings and demonstrations.
“I do it because it’s the right thing to do,” he said. “What’s the point of going to work and not being able to take care of myself?”
Since the movement started, Ware has traveled to dozens of cities in America and visited unions in France, Germany, Belgium and Brazil. He made a tattoo on his right arm with the word believe.
” I needed to symbolize something that I believe in,” he said. “Because I believe that we will win.”
What do we want? Justice! When do we want? Now! (2x)
If we don’t get it — shut it down! (2x)
I call myself the 15 fighter. The reason I call that, I fight for all server workers all over the world.
Black lives matter, immigration reform, child care, health care… It’s all included in the Fight for 15.
If you are human, you can become part of the fight for 15. And part of being human is making sure that everybody is doing ok.
My name is Jorel Ware and I’m a McDonald’s worker.
People don’t realize how many rights we have and we don’t use. I look at my nieces and nephews and I wanna fight for them so when they get older everybody can start of a living wage.
I’m here to stand today (2x)
For all black and brown workers (2x)
And to say enough is enough (2x)
Basically, the Fight for 15 for fast-food workers started back in 2012, in November. A bunch of fast-food workers came together and said enough is enough.
Me and my co-workers we took arrest. We sat in the middle of 8th Avenue and 56th Street and we wouldn’t move. It was like, you know, we need a living wage.
I’m not scared of nothing. I wish I was sometimes, because it would help me, but I’m not scared.
The things they do is it. It’s a perfect exemple of what we’re going through today. Very beautiful.
Sometimes it gets tiring, because I’ve got my workers, and then I have to go to work. But it’s worth it in the end.
Since fast food started in 2012, not the whole new york had 15, california didn’t have 15 dollars an hour. We changed the whole world, the concept of living wage.
When we got it I just went back to everybody that laughed at me, who didn’t believe that I was gonna get it.
64 million people that make less than 15 dollars an hour. We need to lower that number to zero.
I see this world becoming better. It’s so remarkable and I thank god to be able to experience this and to do this work.
Whats next for me? Just to keep figting. That’s it. I just wanna fight, for what I believe in, and for what other people believe in. That’s all I wanna do.
Fight for 15. It changed my life.
For further info, contact Barbara Marcolini