Who funds the opposition to a $15 minimum wage in Minneapolis?
Last Tuesday, the Minnesota Restaurant Association (MRA) hosted a fundraiser for their PAC. Funders were treated to a $100, four-course meal with cocktail pairing. The MRA PAC makes numerous donations to state level politicians, including several authors on the current ALEC legislation called pre-emption*, which would make it illegal for Minneapolis to lead on a $15 minimum wage.
In Minneapolis, treasurer for the MRA’s PAC, Dan Mcelroy, is also the spokesperson for the corporate-backed “Pathway to $15” fighting our grassroots campaign. In the MRA’s February news, McElroy writes, “We are building a Pathway to $15 coalition and have engaged the Lockridge Grindal Nauen firm to help us with lobbying, grassroots engagement, public relations and other aspects of a bold and comprehensive campaign.” “Pathway to $15” is trying to appear worker-led, but it's funded by corporate interests and the same money backing Republicans and preemption. The MRA doesn't want people to know what Pathway really is: a campaign launched by corporate lobbyists to protect profits.
Remember, the Minnesota Restaurant Association is no friend of workers. The MRA joined the Chamber of Commerce to fight against the $9.50minimum wage increase that they’re now claiming to protect in Minneapolis. That $100 /per plate goes toward lobbying against workers’ rights.
If it’s not already clear that pre-emption and Pathway to $15 are big business led initiatives, the Star Tribune recently reported on a statewide poll showing no region of Minnesotans support pre-emption with a majority. In the Twin Cities and nearby suburban counties, 64% oppose stripping the city of local powers. Yet state level politicians who accept campaign contributions from the MRA PAC are pushing against local control and Minneapolis leading the region on $15/hour. Governor Dayton has not yet committed to veto pre-emption.
Our independent, grassroots movement has put a $15 minimum wage on the agenda. We’re close to winning, despite the resources and corporate money behind the big business opposition. But now is the time to act: get involved! We cannot rely on politicians who take money from corporate interest groups to stand firmly on the side of the movement for $15/hour.
Very soon, City Council will discuss minimum wage and we’ll roll out a public calendar of events. Winning $15 against corporate opposition and politicians who aren’t firmly on the side of working people can raise the confidence of workers across the region to beat back not only anti-worker, Republican attacks, but to build campaigns that win concrete victories inspiring workers to organize across the country.
*Several State pre-emption bill co-authors who’ve taken Hospitality Industry (MRA) PAC money:
House Representative Brian Daniels (R) District: 24B
House Representative Dave Baker (R) District: 17B
Representative Tony Jurgens (R) District: 54B
Representative Jeff Backer (R) District: 12A
Representative Jason Rarick (R) District: 11B