The SEIU-backed "Fight for 15" (FF15) campaign focusing on fast food workers and the UFCW-backed campaign to organize Walmart workers have re-energized activists in cities across the US. There's an impressive boldness in both of these campaigns that we haven't seen from labor in many years of defensive struggles, setbacks, and outright defeats. Many of the activists in these campaigns cite the Occupy encampments of two years ago as a formative political experience. Chants of "We--are--the 99%!" are again heard in the streets of many cities, bouncing from one fast food joint to the next. They can even be heard in the suburbs, where activists march through Walmart parking lots and stores, providing media and supportive shoppers with a spectacle and giving management a migraine.
More importantly, workers have been energized--not just any workers, but those in industries still largely considered "unorganizable," due to high turnover rates and bosses from the board room to store offices who are well-practiced in retaliating against any worker brave enough to take a stand. These are also industries where workers are disproportionately female, young, Black, Latino, and earning just above minimum wage, if not right at it--and it should go without saying, but these demographics are central to organizing any working class rebellion in the United States, where capitalist exploitation has always been buttressed by the oppression of women and racial minorities.