#Fightfor15 + #BlackLivesMatter + #OccupyWallStreet: A network-building success story

I recently published an article in the Guardian Sustainable Business section that tracked the movement to raise the  U.S. minimum wage (AKA the “Fight for 15“) and the pressure it puts on retail brands. From a next generation social movement perspective, this cause is also an excellent case study of successful network building.

For new movements seeking leverage in today’s political and economic landscape, linking networks is a strategic power play. Bringing related interest groups together allows movements to build larger audiences for their messaging, attract media attention and recruit many more supporters.

Network building can happen organically when a cause hits multiple pressure points but often, intentional outreach and planned cross-messaging help push this along. As Fight for 15 addresses social justice and inequality, it already had natural crossover with the rising #BlackLivesMatter movement and the still-active networks of Occupy Wall Street activists. To bring all the networks together in a coherent way, organizers simply went the extra mile to make these links explicit in their communications.

Sparked by the tragic deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, the #BlackLivesMatter protests in 2014 opened a channel through which the links beween racial injustice and economic injustice in the U.S. could be discussed upfront. As this momentum grew, Fightfor15 protests embraced the #BlackLivesMatter debate and joined its gatherings. In return, #BlackLivesMatter protesters targeted fast food outlets on Black Friday to reinforce the links between both movements. On the Fight for 15 website the links between wage justice and racial justice are clearly established in this featured video.

fightfor15pageThe Fightfor15’s denunciation of poor living conditions for people at the bottom of the economic ladder has clear resonance with Occupy Wall Street’s enduring slogan: “We are the 99%.” As minimum wage movement organizer Ty Moore states, the Fight for 15 appeals to the Occupy crowd because “People are looking for a unified message to bring the latent popular outrage around income inequality to the center of the national dialogue.” For such reasons, Occupy branches around the U.S such as Occupy Portland have helped organize local minimum wage protests.

With the power of the #BlackLivesMatter crowds and the legacy networks of the Occupy behind them, the Fight for 15 movement definitely has wind in its sails. Maybe that’s why Walmart has finally caved and started raising its wages this year…

Further reading on the subject:


One thought on “#Fightfor15 + #BlackLivesMatter + #OccupyWallStreet: A network-building success story

  1. Pingback: A prophetic #Fightfor15 Guardian piece | social disruptions

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