As a 37 year old McDonald's worker trying to support three kids on $9.00/hour, I haven't had much time for politics. In fact, I've never voted—not in a local or even a national election. But this year, that will change.
I never voted because I never felt politicians listened to me. I was born in a housing project in South Carolina, and I grew up fast. My mother worked overtime at Hardee's, yet I often came home to an empty refrigerator or a dark home because the electricity had been cut off.
As soon as I turned 16, I dropped out of school and started work at Taco Bell. Since then I've stayed in the fast-food industry – mostly working jobs at McDonald's. I've spent my whole life focused on the next paycheck, the next meal, and the next place to lay my head. And when you're faced with the prospect of homelessness, the idea of picking up a newspaper and reading about the horse race in Washington isn't a priority.
My life changed when I got involved with the Fight for $15 in Kansas City. For nearly four years, workers like me have been chanting in the street, going on strike, and getting arrested. Over time we captured the attention of politicians and suddenly San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, and SeaTac were adopting a $15/hour wage.
Then Oregon and Massachusetts adopted the wage for all home care workers. And in the spring, New York and California were racing to become the first state to pass a $15/hour wage.
Even the president of the United States heard us. In October 2015, I was asked to introduce President Obama at a White House summit on the importance of working people coming together for respect, wage increases, and the right to form a union.
Since we started, 20 million Americans have gotten a raise. We have proven what everyone said was impossible: we have the power to win $15.