Why Minneapolis Needs A $15 Minimum Wage…

Two recent op-eds in local journals highlight the growing support for $15/hour Minimum Wage in Minneapolis.

In the Southwest Journal, Claire Thiele writes:

“Real life is more complicated. Though the $15 minimum wage isn’t a true panacea (it’s real and possible to implement for one thing) it is about as close as one economic policy can be. Right now, low-wage workers are serving as the over-tired, under-resourced foundation of our economy. They are struggling hard. Statewide increases in the minimum wage have helped, but not enough. Roughly 42 percent of jobs in Minneapolis don’t pay enough to support a family of four.”

And “We Deserve a Raise: Minneapolis Poverty Data shows Southside needs $15 Now” published in the Southside Pride highlights the dramatic impact $15/hour would have on South Minneapolis:

“For a quick survey of the problem we can start out looking at Southside neighborhoods and zip codes. The 55406, 55407 and 55408 zip codes all have poverty rates above 33%, with 55408 approaching 50%. Powderhorn, Phillips and Central neighborhood households have incomes below $35,000 per year at rates from 37% to as high as 71% in West Phillips.
In Minneapolis, Black, Latino and American-Indian families are three times as likely as whites to be living in poverty. Single women head two-thirds of Minneapolis families in poverty. There is no single measure that would close the racial and gender equity gaps like raising the minimum wage to $15/hour. Estimates show that with a new $15-per-hour wage, over a third of Minneapolis workers would get a raise.

15 Now Transcript from #Justice4Jamar Unity March, Dec. 19th 2015

On December 19th, around a thousand supporters took to the streets in solidarity with #Justice4Jamar, marching from the 4th precinct in North Minneapolis to the Government Plaza downtown.

The Unity March and Rally was a call to action against police brutality and racial inequities in Minneapolis, calling for officials to release the tapes of Jamar Clark’s murder, for prosecution of the police involved and not through a Grand Jury process (which statistics and recent history show rarely if ever indicts officers or serves justice for victims of police brutality), and for community control of the police department.

Members of Jamar Clark’s family spoke alongside other victims of police brutality in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Representatives from the NAACP, Black Lives Matter, local labor unions (AFSCME 3800), along with 15 Now MN and several other groups, highlighted the inaction of city officials in addressing racial disparities in healthcare, jobs, and education.

Below is a transcript from the speech 15 Now organizer Ginger Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 5.02.51 PMJentzen gave outside of Macy’s on Nicollet Mall, after a low-wage worker organizing with the Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha framed the crisis of living on poverty pay.

This march is the tale of two cities. We started on Plymouth Ave, and we’re here on Nicollet Mall. Look around. Right here, we have Macy’s a corporation that makes millions off exploiting low-wage workers. Up the street, we have the HQ of Target. Further up Nicollet, we have US Bank, which made billions in 2008 by peddling bunk mortgages to communities of color.

Let’s show them Jamar Clark matters…
that Black Lives Matter…
Normally this is their street, but today, whose street is it?
Our street

This is the tale of two cities. While these corporations make record profits, in Minneapolis, 28% of residents live in poverty. These numbers are even higher for families of color, including 49% of African Americans households, 65% of American Indians, and 34% of Latinos.

In this sense it’s not just Minneapolis. In New York, the home of Wall Street, Eric Garner was murdered because he was trying to sell loosey cigarettes to make ends meet. That’s economic racism!

Racism and Poverty are two interwoven threads in the fabric of our city.

And the same people stand in our way toward justice.

In two years, the political establishment and Mayor Hodges’ administration have done nothing substantial to close what are some of the worst in the nation racial equity gaps in education, housing, healthcare and jobs.

The same city establishment that defends racist police and represses peaceful protestors also sides with the big business’ bottom line against Minneapolis workers.

City Council majority and the mayor have no real plan to address racial and economic inequality. They don’t have a plan to provide quality jobs, decent schools or a living wage. They don’t have a plan to change the Minneapolis Police Department.

We can’t wait for their plan. We’ve been waiting too long. There have been too many Jamar Clark’s already.

We need to build a movement against the political establishment that runs this city. Against this establishment that defends these corporations’ greedy profits. Against this establishment that defends the racist MPD.

We can’t wait for them. We need a top-to-bottom restructuring of the police departments. An end to “broken windows” policing and the war on drugs, which is really a war on young people of color. An end to the school-to-prison pipeline which traps millions into a deep cycle of poverty.

No worker in Minneapolis benefits from police repression of peaceful protests. That’s why I’m speaking here on behalf of 15 Now, a grassroots organization fighting alongside all workers, the labor movement and supporters to raise the minimum wage in Minneapolis to $15/hour.

Raising the minimum wage to $15/hour would be one of the most important policies to address the deep inequalities that exist in our city.

Estimates show that a $15 minimum wage would transfer almost $1 Billion per year back into the pockets of working people in Minneapolis.

A recent poll showed a stunning 82% support for a $15 hour minimum wage in Minneapolis. But the Mayor and the City Council majority say no to $15. This shows they are deeply out of step with what most people want and need.

The political establishment has proven they won’t side with workers’ rights and racial equity. We don’t need to go through City Hall to pass $15. 15 Now is putting a $15 minimum wage on the ballot, taking the fight for $15 to a vote by the people of Minneapolis.

Big business will fight hard to defeat $15, throwing millions of dollars to misinform, and confuse the public about our ballot initiative. The only way to defeat big business is to build our own politically independent movement for racial and economic equity. That’s why we’re building a coalition of groups to build the grassroots movement needed to win a $15 ballot initiative. That’s why I want you to fight with me and thousands of your neighbors, friends, co-workers to vote for $15/ hour in 2016. Let’s build this movement together, to take action, and to put $15 on the ballot for the people of Minneapolis to vote!

As the political establishment funds studies, make speeches, seek re-election, and look for every trendy new approach to problems of an unstable, low-wage workforce in our city, this one simple policy – to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour – has been pushed out of the way – despite overwhelming popular support.

We know we can’t rely on City Hall to root out racism in the police department, to end the school to prison pipeline, to bring justice for Jamar.

And the same thing is true for workers’ rights. City Hall will not challenge big business in Minneapolis. City Hall will not pass a $15 minimum wage without immense pressure from below.

Standing here, we are in the belly of the beast of capitalism in Minneapolis.

Do you think it’s right that low-level drug arrests make it difficult to get a job?
Do you think it’s right that being black and 9 times more likely to get arrested means you should have to live on poverty wages?

Let’s let every CEO here know – Jamar Clark Matters
Let’s let every boss here know – No more poverty wages
$15 is a fight we can win.

With 82% Support for $15/hour in Minneapolis, is it time to by pass City Hall?

Op-Ed published on TC Daily Planet
by Kip Hedges
Like and Share this article from 15 Now MN on Facebook

Justice for Jamar Clark has revealed Minneapolis’ racial equity gap in more ways than one. Even as the City Council majority, led by Council President Barb Johnson and Mayor Betsy Hodges, pushed to shut down the Fourth Precinct encampment, no proposals to address the economic devastation on the North Side or police violence were forthcoming.

As if we needed more proof that the City Council majority and the mayor have no real plan to address racial and economic inequality, in October the Council voted 10-3 to scuttle fair scheduling proposals. A proposal for paid sick days was sent to a committee where it awaits an uncertain fate. All of this is in spite of a poll showing overwhelming public support for city action to guarantee paid sick days and a $15 per hour minimum wage for all workers.

The poll, which appeared on the MplsWorks website in October (conducted by the Feldman Group), shows a stunning 82 percent support among likely Minneapolis voters for a $15 per hour minimum wage and 91 percent support for paid sick days. This is greater than support for clean drinking water, renewable energy and the Minnesota Vikings.

It’s clear that most city leaders listen to the CEO’s of the Minnesota Business Partnership, such as US Bank and the like. It is equally clear that they don’t listen to the thousands of workers who, under the MplsWorks banner, have rallied, marched and petitioned for months in support of fair scheduling, paid sick days, an end to wage theft and $15.

How can we overcome the resistance at City Hall and big business domination of city politics and make $15 a reality in a city that suffers from disturbing economic, racial and gender inequality? Municipal elections in 2017 might offer a way to bring more progressive minded council members into office, but that is two years away. And as the saying goes, “The rent won’t wait.” We have an emergency in our city that needs to be acted on much more quickly.

Workers and activists need to have a sober discussion about how we can bring existing, overwhelming popular support to bear to make $15 a reality in Minneapolis. A ballot initiative that would allow the voters to decide could be the way forward. A similar effort in St. Paul could succeed as well.

Big business will certainly dig in their heels, as they did around fair scheduling and paid sick days. The Minnesota Business Partnership will spare no expense to try to roll back public support for $15. Those in favor of a living wage and racial and economic equality will need to counter with our own fundraising efforts and bring an army of volunteers into the field. While none of this will be easy, the wind is clearly blowing in our direction. We just need to move our resistant political leaders out of the way.

15 Now MN Solidarity with #Justice4Jamar – No Police Repression

Main image via City Pages 

Solidarity Statement from 15 Now MN

Police forcibly evicted the protest encampment around the 4th Precinct at 4:00 AM on December 3rd, dismantling what had become a symbolic center of community and resistance since Jamar Clark was killed on November 15th.

The eviction comes three days after a press conference calling for the end of the encampment was held by Mayor Hodges and featured Congressman Keith Ellison, City Council members Blong Yang and Barb Johnson, and several establishment leaders from the Northside community. In light of this morning’s eviction, the Mayor’s press conference was designed to provide political cover for police repression against the #4thPrecinctShutDown peaceful demonstration. It once again showed city official’s lack of political leadership on behalf of Northside communities seeking justice and racial equity.

Mayor Hodges was elected pledging to prioritize racial equity, but in two years she has failed to fight for any substantial reforms. Alongside Barb Johnson’s majority on City Council, Mayor Hodges has opposed calls for a $15/hour minimum wage, backed away from support for fair scheduling, and offered no leadership for paid sick days or preventing wage theft.

Whatever the intentions of elected officials at the Mayor’s press conference, their statements served to irresponsibly divide neighbors from standing together. They attempted to drive a wedge between the brave young Black Lives Matter activists and the Northside community, at a time when a united program for racial, economic and social equality is needed. We must be clear: allowing threats of racist terror and police repression to stand will only encourage more repression and racist attacks, and doing so flies in the face of politicians’ calls for racial equity in our city.

15 Now urges community and labor groups to use our resources and strength to defend the demands of #Justice4Jamar, as the movement will undoubtedly continue. No workers in this city benefit from police repression and racist violence. Minneapolis is a divided city where working people struggle to survive. Racial equity gaps in Minnesota– demonstrably some of the worst in the nation – mean that communities of color are hardest hit by poverty, unemployment, housing insecurity, and cuts to education. Black communities make up less than 6% of the population in Minnesota, yet 35% of the prison system.

15 Now stands with #Justice4Jamar #4thPrecinctShutDown demands:

  • Release the Tapes
  • No to the Grand Jury! Less than 2% of grand jury trials of police killings result in criminal charges.
  • That the U.S. Department of Justice investigate the homicide as well as police abuses against peaceful protestors at the 4th Precinct.

    Along with the demand for:
  • Real policies to close the racial equity gaps in Minneapolis

15 Now stands for a united struggle against racism, calling on all working people in the struggle for $15 and workers’ rights, and the wider labor movement, to stand in solidarity with #Justice4Jamar. We urge all our supporters to join the demonstrations.
Next event:
Justice4Jamar Unity March and Rally
Saturday Dec 19th (See Event for more details)

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