Otis Sanford: Fight for $15 debate needs to continue

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — For some, the march through downtown Memphis on Monday for higher wages invoked searing images from 50 years ago. For others, it was a hopeful look ahead to a time when a truly livable wage becomes a reality.

However you view it, the march by more than 500 participants from historic Clayborn Temple to City Hall was eventful. It occurred 50 years to the day that city sanitation workers went on strike for more pay and better working conditions.

Monday's march, which retraced the steps taken by the sanitation workers, was aimed primarily at drawing attention to the Fight for 15 movement - as in a $15 minimum wage. Both the federal and Tennessee minimum wage currently stands at $7.25.

The push to move workers at fast food establishments to $15 an hour is a hotly debated issue. Opponents argue, for example, that paying workers at McDonald's that amount would severely hurt the restaurants, most of which are franchised operations. Critics also argue that most fast food jobs are designed for a teenage work force and not meant to be permanent.

That argument belies reality. Many fast food workers, by necessity, are adults and heads of households.

No matter where you stand, Monday's march - if nothing else - was full of symbolism. Hopefully this debate on a valid public issue will continue.