Powerful labor and faith groups announced Thursday they are uniting behind the fight for a $15/hour minimum wage in Minneapolis, and will make the issue a top priority after this November’s elections.
“I’m here today as a mother of five for all the mothers, fathers, and children who can’t be here. I’ve never made more than $11/hour and I’m fighting for a better future for my family. I put my blood, my sweat, my tears, and my soul into my job, helping other people — but I’m barely helping myself,” said Rosheeda Credit, a NOC member who works as a personal care attendant. “I’m excited that so many new partners are joining us in this fight. This should be something that’s passed for everybody."
On Tuesday, the Minnesota AFL-CIO - a federation of over 1000 local unions representing over 300,000 workers in Minnesota - officially endorsed the campaign to raise wages for workers at the municipal level, including the fight for $15 in Minneapolis. The AFL-CIO’s local affiliate, the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, pledged to use its collective power to organize workers in the fight for $15. “We are at a critical moment in the history of the worker’s movement as income inequality has grown to staggering proportions, creating a crisis for low-wage and middle-class workers,” said Chelsie Glaubitz, president of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation. “This, combined with the rise of the on-demand economy, is leaving too many people --especially women and people of color -- behind. Workers deserve a voice in their workplace.”
SEIU Local 26, which represents over 6,000 janitors, security officers and window cleaners, also announced their commitment to expand their struggle to the fight for $15 for all workers in Minneapolis. "Janitors with SEIU Local 26 fought and won $15 in our last contract, which has made a huge impact on my life. But while that was a great gain for us, I have immediate family in Minneapolis who make less than $15 and I know that puts incredible pressure on them just to survive," said Valentina McKenzie, a janitor at Union Depot. "That is why I am excited for this movement, because everyone deserves to be able to pay their bills and provide for their family. Even though we already won $15 for union janitors, I'm excited to join this fight to make sure everyone can get there."
“We are committed to winning a $15 minimum wage for all workers because companies should compete based on their goods and services, not on who can sell a cheaper tomato by paying the lowest wage. That is why we are partnering with community organizations to organize retail workers to win $15,” said Rena Wong, organizing director of UFCW Local 653, which represents more than 10,000 retail, meat manufacturing, food preparation, healthcare, and other workers in Minnesota.
ISAIAH, a coalition of over 100 faith organizations in Minnesota, helped organize the first mass doorknock of the ordinance campaign last weekend, which drew out over 50 volunteers. “People of faith are joining the fight for $15,” said Rev. Paul Slack, the pastor of New Creation Church and the president of ISAIAH. “We believe that no one should work and make poverty wages. We will be activating our churches to engage in the struggle for dignity for all workers.”
Labor groups announcing their support for the fight for a $15 minimum wage in Minneapolis include AFSCME Council 5, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), Bakers (BCTGM) Local 22, Communication Workers of America (CWA) State Council, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and ESP’s (MFT) Local 59, Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation (MRLF), Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA), National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Branch 9, People of Color Union Member Caucus, SEIU Minnesota State Council, Teamsters Local 320, UNITE HERE Local 17, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 563, and Working America.
On Saturday, October 15th, the coalition plans to gather hundreds of workers, community activists, union members, supportive small businesses, and members of the faith community for a mass organizing conference to build action groups in each Minneapolis ward.
“I’m one of the 64 million people who make less than $15 minimum wage,” said Guillermo Lindsay, a leader with CTUL and fast food employee. “This fight was started by fast food workers all across the county because we are tired of making poverty wages while the bosses are making millions of dollars every year. We are going to continue to organize in the workplace and in the streets together, as one until we win $15 in Minneapolis.”
“Polls show 68% support for our proposal, which gets every worker to $15/hour by 2022 with no exceptions, and we’re organizing to activate this support into a broad, grassroots campaign to win,” said Ginger Jentzen, the Executive Director of 15 Now Minnesota. “In a city where the CEO of Target makes $9,000/hour, big business will continue fighting for every carve-out and exemption, even while Minneapolis supports $15/hr as a major economic opportunity, especially for women and workers of color who disproportionately fill low-wage jobs.”