2016 was a historic year in the fight for workers’ rights. The richest 1%, the billionaire class, are raking in record profits while wages have remained stagnant for decades. Income inequality in the U.S. is at the highest point in history -- but workers are fighting back!
Through determined organizing, the movement for a $15/hr minimum wage is sweeping the nation. Grassroots donations from over 1,500 working people have supported 15 Now Minnesota in building an independent vehicle to fight for a $15/hr minimum wage for all Minneapolis workers, who’ve won a mandate to pass $15/hour this year. Big business has fought to defend poverty wages at every step of the way, but we can win $15 this year if we strengthen our movement.
Let’s win $15/hr in 2017! Learn how you can get involved at the next 15 Now Member Meeting: Saturday, January 14, 1:00pm at the CWA Local 7200 Union Hall (3521 E Lake St, Minneapolis).
2016 in Review
2016 will go down in history as a turning point for Minneapolis workers. Minneapolis City Hall passed paid sick time, establishing a precedent that cities can take major steps to fight for workers' rights and address inequality.
This year, $15/hr minimum wage went from a far-out demand to a policy with 68% support amongst Minneapolis voters. With Trump in the White House and a Trump agenda dominating the Minnesota State Capitol, we must continue organizing to defeat poverty wages. By reflecting on all our movement accomplished in 2016, we can point the way forward for how to win $15 in 2017!
We won a mandate: $15 for all Minneapolis workers!
At the March 1st caucuses, resolutions for a $15/hr minimum wage passed in over 100 Minneapolis precincts, in every ward, as well as in precincts across the state. Under pressure from the nationwide movement and four years of low-wage worker strikes and actions, the Democratic Party officially adopted $15/hr into their party platform.
But with no action from City Hall to end poverty wages and address some of the nation’s worst racial disparities, Minneapolis workers took matters into their own hands this spring, launching a campaign to take a $15 minimum wage to the November ballot.
In just nine weeks, nearly 20,000 Minneapolis voters signed the proposal, smashing the requirements to qualify for the ballot.
Watch some of the highlights from the ballot campaign:
City Hall stole our vote, but we proved $15 is possible
Under pressure from big business and the Chamber of Commerce, the Minneapolis city council voted to defend poverty wages, blocking the democratic right of Minneapolis voters to decide on minimum wage.
Low-wage workers sued the city - and won. But the Chamber of Commerce pressured the city to appeal and filed an amicus brief on behalf of business groups (Workday MN).
As I explained at time, “[City Council was] urged by the Chamber of Commerce to continue to defend poverty wages and not put a $15 minimum wage on the ballot to be decided by those workers who are most affected."
Council member Alondra Cano, one of the two city council members who did not vote against the ballot initiative (alongside Council member Cam Gordon), stated: "I’m really disappointed that our city resources are being used to keep people in poverty.”
While blocking the proposal from the ballot, the City Council majority accepted an ordinance process to raise minimum wage. Before workers fought to take $15 to the ballot, City Hall wouldn’t admit that was possible.
Our proposal for a $15/hr minimum wage for all Minneapolis workers, which has won a popular mandate, is still on the table. A poll conducted by Patinkin research strategies even found 68% support for the proposal!
City study confirms: $15 is right for Minneapolis
A study commissioned by the City of Minneapolis was released this fall, giving hard evidence to what workers have made clear for over two years: City Hall is on solid ground to pass the proposal supported by 68% of Minneapolis, which gets every worker to $15/hr by 2022, no exceptions.
The report confirms that:
Passing a $15/hr minimum wage would be a major step towards addressing racial and economic equity in Minneapolis.
Raising minimum wage would benefit Minneapolis working families most, raising wages for over 70,000 workers.
The benefits of raising minimum wage far outweigh potential negatives. In line with national studies on minimum wage increases, the Minneapolis study shows no significant impact on jobs or business closures, and it forecasts minimal impact on business operating costs. Working families below the poverty line would see a 50% increase in their income with a $15/hr minimum wage.
When we fight, we win
The fight for a $15/hr minimum wage is part of a broader workers’ rights movement. Here in Minnesota, Minneapolis workers won the state’s first paid sick time policy in May, paving the way for an even stronger policy in St. Paul soon after.
This summer, nurses who have been steadfast supporters in the movement to win $15/hr stood up to Allina’s corporate greed and union-busting efforts in a 38-day strike.
Minimum wage victories swept the nation, with $15 winning in Washington D.C., parts of Oregon and New York, the entire state of California and more, resulting in raises for 11.8 million people. In the past four years of the nationwide fight for $15, low-wage workers have won $62 billion in wage increases.
$15/hr is on the center of Minneapolis’ political map
One thing is clear: this movement has made a $15/hr minimum wage a top issue for 2017. Mayor Betsy Hodges finally announced support for raising the city’s minimum wage and declared opposition to a tip penalty, though she failed to mention a specific number. 2017 mayoral candidate Nekima Levy-Pounds has gone further, supporting the proposal to take all Minneapolis workers to $15/hr. Mayoral candidate Jacob Frey says he generally supports raising wages, but his lack of a clear position on the tip-penalty is concerning.
In Minnesota, the state government could block workers’ rights legislation at the local level. It’s called pre-emption, and it’s been happening in states across the country. And at the national level, Trump has even appointed a Fast Food CEO as labor secretary, someone who says he doesn’t believe in a minimum wage!
City council candidates are clamoring to declare their positions on minimum wage, but workers can’t wait until after the November elections to pass $15/hr. Passing a $15/hr minimum wage - now! - is more important than ever.
It’s time to win: Join the movement!
It’s clear to me that 2017 can - and must - be the year Minneapolis leads the region on workers’ rights and a $15/hr minimum wage. Can you donate $15, $50, or $150 today to win $15 in 2017?