City Council Takes First Step Toward Minimum Wage Hike

City Council Takes First Step Toward Minimum Wage Hike, While Moving Forward with Wider Workers’ Rights Agenda

Just two days after over 1,000 people took to the streets to demand $15/hour and union rights, the Minneapolis City Council voted this morning to establish a workgroup to “develop a recommendation for a study of the effects of establishing a minimum wage regionally and locally.” The workgroup will also develop policy proposals to address workers’ rights issues including paid sick and safe time, fair scheduling, and curbing wage theft.

Local organizations such as Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC), Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL), SEIU, and 15 Now have been publicly fighting for these four issues, putting pressure on employers like McDonalds and the University of Minnesota. These groups and others were behind Wednesday’s fast food strike and community march for $15/hour and union rights.

Alondra Cano, one of the City Council members who has been pushing for a $15/hour minimum wage, said: “today’s resolution is an important step toward winning a $15/hour minimum wage in Minneapolis. The actions and organizing of working people, of community groups, has placed a workers’ rights agenda at the center of discussion in City Hall. I stand firmly behind this agenda.”

“Minneapolis can lead the way in the fight for $15 and stop the race to the bottom across the region,” said Ginger Jentzen, who spent years as a minimum-wage server before becoming a 15 Now organizer.

15 Now Minnesota welcomes the resolution as an important first step towards equity and a city that prioritizes the needs of its workers. Organizers urged that the City Council workgroup, which will be appointed by Council President Barb Johnson, include the strongest, most vocal advocates for workers rights on the council as well. 15 Now organizers also raised concerns about the long timeline for the minimum wage study.

“In Seattle, it took just six months for city leaders to create a committee, do their research, and prepare policy for the City Council to pass legislation for a $15/hour minimum wage,” said Ty Moore, 15 Now National Organizer. “That happened because 15 Now was able to bring the urgency that working people feel every single day to city hall. We have a poverty crisis. We have an equity crisis. Let’s move this forward as if our lives depended on it, because they do.”

Mayor Hodges’ Working Families Agenda a Step Forward, But Falls Short on $15/Hour

Low-wage workers and community organizers pushing for a $15/hour minimum wage welcomed Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges’ support for earned sick and safe time, fair scheduling, and curbing wage theft, which she outlined in her State of the City address today. If strong versions of these policies pass this year, it will be a major victory for workers in Minneapolis and set the stage for similar policies to move forward at the state level.

The Mayor’s speech today is the result of the excellent work of many labor and community organizations that have been pushing for these policies at City Hall for months. Yet despite these steps forward, many expressed frustration at the Mayor’s failure to lead on raising wages, the most impactful feature of any serious workers’ rights agenda in Minneapolis.

“If the Mayor says solving racial and economic inequities is her top priority, why isn’t she listening to our calls to raise the minimum wage?” asked Najma Ahmed, a retail worker active with 15 Now who makes $8.40/hour and is the sole income earner for her family. “We have been clear that we need at least $15/hour to make it in this city.”

The Mayor’s speech came just two weeks prior to the National Day of Action, when an estimated 60,000 workers in over 200 cities across the country will stand up to their bosses to demand $15/hour and union rights. In the Twin Cities, fast food workers, retail janitors, university workers, airport workers, retail workers, and more will march from the U of M to the Dinkytown McDonald’s to call out the corporate players who are standing in the way of workers rights and racial equity in Minneapolis. We are also calling on city hall to ensure all workers in Minneapolis receive a $15/hour minimum wage, paid sick and safe days, fair scheduling, and an end to wage theft in our workplaces!
While supporting several key demands from low-wage workers, Mayor Hodges failed to back growing calls for a city-wide wage hike like those in Seattle, San Francisco, and other cities. “Pressure from below pushed the Mayor to embrace major aspects of a Workers Rights Agenda for Minneapolis, but we are disappointed that she is not backing the call for $15/hour in Minneapolis,” said Ty Moore, the 15 Now National Organizer. “We agree with the Mayor that a regional strategy is needed, but what is her plan to achieve that if she isn’t prepared take the lead in Minneapolis?”
15 Now Minnesota is helping to lead a growing coalition of labor and community groups demanding a $15/hour minimum wage in Minneapolis and region wide. As part of a wider labor and community coalition including Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, University workers, and many others, 15 Now is mobilizing for a mass day of action on April 15th for $15 and Union Rights.