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.Read more