As faith leaders in Minneapolis and the larger metro area, we believe that paying $15/hour is a moral imperative. Our respective religious traditions teach us, in the words of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, that “all labor has dignity,” and that there is dignity in being able to house, feed, and sustain one’s family.
Working individuals and families deserve dignity, regardless of the type of job they work. From its earliest conception, the minimum wage was meant to be a livable wage, not a wage for teens and not a reflection of work valued less than the work of the managing class. In 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, wrote in his statement on The National Industrial Recovery Act, which established the minimum wage: “...by living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level - I mean the wages of decent living.” Working people and families should be able to meet their basic needs by earning a livable wage, instead of too often living in poverty, experiencing homelessness, or being financially destitute.
Income inequality is at an all-time high and disproportionately affects mostly black, brown, and rural communities. Meanwhile CEOs, almost exclusively men and almost completely white, of the 500 largest U.S. companies make millions of dollars a year. Hundreds of millions of low-wage workers in our country work full-time or more than full-time and still cannot afford life’s basic necessities. This reality is mirrored in Minneapolis as well. Minneapolis has the highest concentration of corporate businesses in the country: seventeen Fortune 500 companies are based in Minneapolis. Yet, over 40% of Minneapolis workers are earning less than the minimum wage. This is not just a statistic: in our congregations and faith communities, we know faithful people who work full-time or work more than full-time in multiple part-time jobs, and they struggle to make ends meet. The current minimum wage is not a living wage in Minneapolis.
As moral leaders, we are called to compassionately listen to and amplify the voices of those who labor without dignity and without a livable wage. We know that in Minneapolis, low wage workers are disproportionately people of color, and that women of color are most impacted by poverty level wages. They clean our offices and wash our dishes. They care for our children. They serve our food, many times even when they are sick. They change the diapers of our elderly and transport our baggage at the airport. The dignity in the work is not recognized in action or word; it is past time to pay a $15/hour livable wage, and it is one tangible step towards addressing the grotesque racial disparities in Minneapolis.
We, the undersigned faith leaders, support and stand with 15 Now Minnesota and the worker led movement they are building behind their ballot proposal to pass a $15 minimum wage this November. We call upon other people of faith to stand with us all, as we work toward one Minneapolis, a city of equity and justice for all.
Rev. Justin Schroeder, First Universalist Church of Minneapolis
Rabbi Michael Latz, Shir Tikvah
Lena Gardner, Church of the Larger Fellowship
Imam Makram El-Amin, Masjid An-Nur
Rev. Ashley Horan, Minnesota Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Alliance
Rev. Meg A. Riley, Church of the Larger Fellowship
Rev. Ashley Harness, Lyndale United Church of Christ
Arif Mamdani, Kaleo Center for Faith, Justice & Social Transformation
Rev. Jen Nagel, University Lutheran Church of Hope
Rev. Donna J. Olsen, All God’s Children MCC
Rev. Jane McBride, First Congregational Church of MN, UCC
Rev. DeWayne L. Davis, All God’s Children MCC
Rev. Danny Givens & Marea Perry, Above Every Name Ministries
Rev. Brad Froslee, Calvary Lutheran Church, Minneapolis
Dr. Mary Hess, Luther Seminary, St. Paul
Carrie Carroll, Luther Seminary, St. Paul
Rev. Ruth MacKenzie, First Universalist Church of Minneapolis
Rev. Arthur Murray, Transfiguration Lutheran Church, Bloomington
Irene Amon, Luther Seminary, Transfiguration Lutheran Church, Bloomington
Rev. Jan Mehlhoff, St. Luke’s Lutheran Church, Bloomington
Rev. Victoria Safford, White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church, Mahtomedi
Rev. Dr. David Breeden, First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis
Rev. Martha Schwehn Bardwell, Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church
Rev. Dr. Rebecca Voelkel, Center for Sustainable Justice
Rev. Steven Newcom, Kaleo Center for Faith, Justice & Social Transformation
Rev. Laura Smidzik, White Bear Unitarian Universalist Church, Mahtomedi
Vicar Ryan Pusch, Winds of the Prairie Ministries, SW MN Synod of the ELCA
Rev. G. Travis Norvell, Judson Memorial Baptist Church, Minneapolis
Rev. Carla Bailey, Plymouth Congregational Church
Rev. Elaine Aron Tenbrink, First Universalist Church of Minneapolis