CCJ stands with Striking Workers demanding Living Wages and Union Rights
Concerned Citizens for Justice stands with workers across Tennessee and the country who are on strike today, fighting for $15/hr and a Union.
Black and Latino communities are disproportionately affected by the growing low-wage economy in Chattanooga and throughout the U.S., where over 64 million people make less than $15/hr and work under exploitative conditions.
In Chattanooga, the unanimous narrative from the City, developers, media and nonprofits is that the extractive tourism industry is one of our only hopes for creating jobs. However the industries connected to this strategy- hotels, restaurants, and entertainment (whether national chains or local corporations)- thrive off of extracting huge profits made possible by paying the workers poverty wages. These industries benefit from a largely anti-Labor political environment. As a result, Chattanooga has the highest concentration of low and minimum wage workers in the country.
We know that structural poverty creates crime and violence, and that Black communities are struggling against the continuing reality of racist policies that under-develop and exploit them. Chattanooga decision makers refuse to invest in real economic development in Black and working class communities that provides sustainable living wage jobs. Instead, they focus on building a downtown playground for the wealthy that displaces and gentrifies those communities like Hill City, the now-branded Southside, or Highland Park.
While further dis-empowering folks by displacing them from their communities and support systems, the city is increasingly criminalizing poverty which they falsely claim will decrease crime. The Mayor’s Violence Reduction Initiative, for instance, pays lip service to addressing root causes and structural inequality by offering a few low-wage temp jobs to people who they want to leave street organizations while focusing the vast majority of their energy on mass-surveillance, enforcement, and incarceration.
The fight for living wages and organizing rights is intimately connected with other frontlines of state violence against Black people and communities. We cannot live in a world where Black Lives Matter until Black Labor is valued and not exploited by a system built for White wealth.