ACORN’s Revenge? The Proud Activist Heritage of Seattle’s $15 Minimum Wage

A lot of things had to come together just right to lead towards yesterday’s 9-0 passage of Seattle’s historic $15 an hour minimum wage. But if you want to really piss off righties, you might want to remind them of the integral role that former ACORN activists played in sparking the $15 movement.

The very notion of demanding a $15 wage—the number 15 itself—came out of the first fast food strike in New York City on November 29, 2012, a strike organized by New York Communities for Change. And NYCC itself was organized by former ACORN activists, rising from the ashes of the right-wing witch hunt that dried up ACORN’s funding and forced its collapse.

Ironically, after ACORN’s demise, NYCC’s leaders decided to refocus on their community organizing roots, a focus that led it to its efforts to organize fast food workers. NYCC was also one of the first organizations to provide support to Occupy Wall Street, helping that spontaneous movement grow and spread. And it was on Occupy Seattle that Kshama Sawant and her Socialist Alternative comrades first cut their local organizing teeth. Thus both Sawant’s stunning election and Seattle’s highly successful fast food strikes can trace their roots at least indirectly to NYCC’s post-ACORN grassroots activism.

In a way, you could even make an argument that Seattle’s $15 minimum wage might never have happened without ACORN’s collapse! So, hey… thanks, righties!


  1. 1

    Screed spews:

    Careful there Goldy… Last I heard rightwing pols were still fundraising off of the existential menace that is ACORN, pretending it never went away. You might just feed their fever nightmares of undocumented workers swarming the land with Das Kapital in one hand and burning pitchforks in the other, stuffing ballot boxes with communist write-in candidates.

    That said, your story is a welcome addition to the canon of unintended consequences.

  2. 2

    TerraceHusky spews:

    I was just thinking about this from a local perspective the other day. SeaTac’s drive to institute a limited $15 minimum wage on airport and airport-related businesses was so integral, but now so quickly overshadowed. A suburb aimed high, and squeaked by the finish line, showing just how favorably such a proposal would be received in deep-blue Seattle. And thanks to Alaska Air’s strong legal challenges, Seattle knew well in advance that a city minimum in excess of the state minimum was legal. Thank you to fast food workers for driving the movement. And thank you to SeaTac for opening the door and showing us what’s possible.

  3. 3

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    The bitter resentment of those who feel outraged that workers should earn enough to pay rent and buy food will spill across the whole land.

  4. 6

    SJ spews:

    Sawant has obviously created a base. Now the question is whether she can build something more meaningful?

    This depends on three things:

    1. adding a broader set of initiatives that fit here meme. The two I have heard about are broadband and pre K. Both are winners but the latter will affect her core more if it transmutes beyond day career to an issue facilitating their ability of women to work.

    2. getting re-elected. She is a poor candidate for her new district. The number of Occupy fans oin cao hill vs the umbers of yuppies and affluent dems is small. If she wants THIS to be HER base, she needs to broaden her appeal by dealing with cap hill issues … e.g. parkjng and access to the new light rail, affordable housing along Pike Pine, changing utilization of Garfield and the Miller Community Center as the area yuppifies.

    3. changing to a city wide constituency. If this what she wants to do, my guess is that the biggest issue may be Seattle’s role in mass transit. Voters in the poorer southern regions of the city NEED buses to get to those $15/ hr jobs.

  5. 8

    headless lucy spews:

    re 6– “…umbers of yuppies….”

    Like an army of Dockers™ pants marching inexorably to preserve the status quo.

  6. 9


    @7 is right. District 3 was Sawant’s strongest district. Capitol Hill restaurant owners may be vocal, but they’re not numerous. Add in the fact that she has an organization available to doorbell the district, and she should have an easier time than running at large.

  7. 10

    tensor spews:

    “The bitter resentment of those who feel outraged that workers should earn enough to pay rent and buy food will spill across the whole land.”

    Yea and verily, I say unto thee, for they shall teabag each other mightily, and their awesome teabaggery shall unskew every poll in the land, and the good news for John McCain shall flow everlastingly and forever, amen.

  8. 11


    and their awesome teabaggery shall unskew every poll in the land,

    Too funny! Our most credulous trolls (Bob and Puddydumbass) were really big on that “skewed” poll BS…

    May they continue indefinitely to represent klownservative “thought”..

  9. 12

    seabos84 spews:

    ACORN & Patty Pathetic & Maria CanDoShit … I remember those daze.
    That was back before 0-bummer showed his true colors in AHIP-Pharma-Care. That was back around the time when Glen Greenwald came up with Rotating Villains and Jane Hamsher came up with the Veal Pen.
    Does anyone remember how it was the fault of the little know no-body for the Dim-0-crap loses of 2010? The little know no-body voted with their feet by walking away from the DLC Corp-0-rat$ who sould out the little know no-body!! Imagine the chutzpah!

    And, here we are, 4 years later, into another cycle of the Rodney Tom 1% Doormat Caucus relying on their latest version of “Lessor Of Two Evils” to save their politically pathetic asses from unemployment.

    Come on 2015 and elections by district!