via Erin Golden, Star Tribune“Minneapolis residents may have another item to vote on at the polls this November: raising the city’s minimum wage to $15 per hour.
Members of the group 15 Now Minnesota said they’re tired of waiting for the Minneapolis City Council to act on calls for a higher minimum wage, so they’re taking the issue directly to voters.”
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15 Now Minnesota Launches $15 Minimum Wage Ballot Initiative Campaign
Amid massive support and City Council inaction, activists appeal directly to voters
Minneapolis — Low-wage workers in the Twin Cities are launching a grassroots campaign to put a $15 minimum wage on the ballot in Minneapolis in 2016. The initiative is backed by 15 Now Minnesota, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC), Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL), the Minneapolis NAACP, the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG), the Minneapolis chapter of Black Lives Matter and other community and labor organizations. These groups will come together for a ballot campaign launch event on February 27th, a mass meeting to bring together all workers and supporters of a $15/hr.
After months of coalition building with supportive organizations and low-wage workers, organizers with 15 Now Minnesota are confident the initiative can win. They point to a recent poll that showed 82% support for $15/hour among Minneapolis voters, victories in other cities across the country, the popularity of Bernie Sanders’ campaign and high voter turnout in 2016.
“Under pressure from big business, city hall backed away from the Working Families Agenda, a key set of policies to address Minnesota’s worst in the nation equity gaps. But we don’t think the rest of Minneapolis agrees that a $15 minimum wage can wait. We’re building a mass movement of workers who need $15/hour now,” said 15 Now organizer Ginger Jentzen. “This initiative is designed to put that decision back into the hands of those most affected by poverty wages.”
Many major cities across the country have taken bold steps to address poverty wages over the past year, such as New York, Chicago, St. Louis, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. More than 4 in 10 workers nationwide are paid less than $15 an hour, including more than half of African-American workers and 6 in 10 Latino workers. Supporters say $15 is one of the most impactful single steps we can take towards racial and economic equity in Minneapolis.
“The $15 ballot initiative is an opportunity to take a lead and fight against the racial and economic disparities tearing our city apart. When I talk with our supporters, they are sick and tired of working longer hours for lower wages. They’re tired of the race to the bottom,” said Claire Thiele, a low-wage worker and 15 Now volunteer. “If the Council won’t act, we will.”
“As a small business owner, I pay my employees a living wage and support $15,” said Brett Mattson, owner of the South Minneapolis restaurant, Cap’s Grill. “My restaurant business is expanding. My employees are happy and most have stayed with me. It can work for Minneapolis too.”