15 Now Statement on February 8th Hearing as Graco Sues Minneapolis to Repeal $15

We’re not surprised to see big business in court today pushing a baseless lawsuit against the City of Minneapolis in an obvious attempt to protect their profits. This has been a constant feature of the movement to raise the minimum wage in Minneapolis, and movements of workers throughout history who organize for living wages and jobs with dignity.

Over years of organizing, strikes, rallies, pickets, protests, and public meetings, workers in Minneapolis won an historic victory: a $15 minimum wage for all workers, with no tip penalty, phased in over five to seven years. Our victory isn’t just historic because it made Minneapolis the first city in the Midwest to reject poverty wages, it’s historic because the working class won something that the establishment in City Hall said was impossible. It’s historic because we won despite the constant obstacles throw into our path by big business.

Ever since Minneapolis workers started organizing for $15, big business interests like the Chamber of Commerce and Minnesota Restaurant Association fought tooth and nail to block the movement to raise the wage. They tried to use their influence in City Hall to stall out the legislative process, carve-out the proposed policy, delay its implementation and defund its enforcement. Big business poured untold thousands into blocking $15/hour in a tireless display of corporate greed. Today’s lawsuit by Graco Inc, which initially included the Chamber of Commerce and other big corporations, is a clear continuation of that greed.

Minneapolis has the highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies per capita in the country. In a time when three billionaires own more wealth than half the US population and Trump’s tax plan on track to make this unprecedented inequality even worse, workers are taking a stand and demand policy that returns this country’s wealth into our communities. $15 is exactly the kind of policy that can turn the tide on the extractive economy.

$15 is a good policy for Minneapolis. It will bring $300 million into the poorest communities in Minneapolis, including giving 42% of all Black workers and 54% of all Hispanic workers a raise over the next seven years. Within the first six months alone, the wage increase will put $23 million into workers’ pockets, which will be spent immediately in the local economy.

When workers fight and use our power and persistence, we can win massive gains like the $15 minimum wage in Minneapolis. Of course the establishment will try to stop us every step of the way to protect corporate profits, but we’ll continue fighting every step of the way-- through today’s lawsuit and beyond.