March 26th, 2018
Dear Ms. Hoffman,
As the Citizens League moves towards Phase Two of the St Paul $15 minimum wage research project, we want to make sure this process is fair and accurate. Our coalition represents tens of thousands of St Paul workers and residents. Many of our members are among the 40% of St Paul residents living in poverty, and many more make just enough to get by. A fair and accurate process will be centered around these residents.
For a worker in a low paying hourly job, participating in a weekly meeting over the span of several months presents significant challenges. For some workers, scheduling along these lines is impossible, for others it might mean giving up hours critical to a family income. These are precisely the experiences that must inform our policy to raise the minimum wage in St Paul. A process that caters to professional decision-makers -- lobbyists, representatives, paid staffers-- will not accurately capture the experiences of those most affected.
Instead, a fair and accurate process will:
- Have an open application process. In order for policy conversations to be meaningful, we must expand the perspectives involved, not replicate the interests who already have a seat at the table.
- Have a goal of reflecting the demographic realities of St Paul. Forty percent of St Paul lives in poverty, so the task force should aim to have a similar composition to most accurately represent the city.
Convene accessible meetings. Meetings accessible to working people are held in evenings and on weekends, at locations accessible by public transit, with childcare and translation available.
Stipend workers for participating. We need affected workers to be at the table. For low-wage and hourly workers to participate in the task force, they will have to take off at least forty hours of work (assuming two hours per week for four months), and may miss entire shifts they depend on. Understanding that this is not possible for many workers, the Citizens League should stipend workers at least $15/hour for participating to ensure that the task force does not skew towards lobbyists and paid organizational representatives over working people.
- Not include groups or individuals supporting statewide preemption. Organizations supporting preemption are actively working to undercut St Paul’s ability to raise the minimum wage. If they oppose municipal wage policy on principle, they cannot honestly participate in this policy making discussion.
We are invested in the accuracy of this process-- the outcome will affect the ability of all working people in the city of Saint Paul to pay rent and put food on the table. A process that isn’t perceived as accurate and legitimate by the general public is bad for policymaking as a whole.
We look forward to working with the Citizens League and the city to pass a policy by this fall that addresses the crisis of poverty and inequality in St Paul.
15 Now Minnesota
AFSCME Council 5
Asian American Organizing Project
Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL)
East Side Freedom Library
Hmong Americans for Justice
Minnesota Nurses Association
Restaurant Opportunities Center
Saint Paul Federation of Teachers
Saint Paul Regional Labor Federation
SEIU MN State Council
Teamsters Local 320
UFCW Local 1189
UNITE HERE! Local 17