Mayor Hodges’ Working Families Agenda a Step Forward, But Falls Short on $15/Hour

Low-wage workers and community organizers pushing for a $15/hour minimum wage welcomed Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges’ support for earned sick and safe time, fair scheduling, and curbing wage theft, which she outlined in her State of the City address today. If strong versions of these policies pass this year, it will be a major victory for workers in Minneapolis and set the stage for similar policies to move forward at the state level.

The Mayor’s speech today is the result of the excellent work of many labor and community organizations that have been pushing for these policies at City Hall for months. Yet despite these steps forward, many expressed frustration at the Mayor’s failure to lead on raising wages, the most impactful feature of any serious workers’ rights agenda in Minneapolis.

“If the Mayor says solving racial and economic inequities is her top priority, why isn’t she listening to our calls to raise the minimum wage?” asked Najma Ahmed, a retail worker active with 15 Now who makes $8.40/hour and is the sole income earner for her family. “We have been clear that we need at least $15/hour to make it in this city.”

The Mayor’s speech came just two weeks prior to the National Day of Action, when an estimated 60,000 workers in over 200 cities across the country will stand up to their bosses to demand $15/hour and union rights. In the Twin Cities, fast food workers, retail janitors, university workers, airport workers, retail workers, and more will march from the U of M to the Dinkytown McDonald’s to call out the corporate players who are standing in the way of workers rights and racial equity in Minneapolis. We are also calling on city hall to ensure all workers in Minneapolis receive a $15/hour minimum wage, paid sick and safe days, fair scheduling, and an end to wage theft in our workplaces!
While supporting several key demands from low-wage workers, Mayor Hodges failed to back growing calls for a city-wide wage hike like those in Seattle, San Francisco, and other cities. “Pressure from below pushed the Mayor to embrace major aspects of a Workers Rights Agenda for Minneapolis, but we are disappointed that she is not backing the call for $15/hour in Minneapolis,” said Ty Moore, the 15 Now National Organizer. “We agree with the Mayor that a regional strategy is needed, but what is her plan to achieve that if she isn’t prepared take the lead in Minneapolis?”
15 Now Minnesota is helping to lead a growing coalition of labor and community groups demanding a $15/hour minimum wage in Minneapolis and region wide. As part of a wider labor and community coalition including Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, University workers, and many others, 15 Now is mobilizing for a mass day of action on April 15th for $15 and Union Rights.
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