Marching Down West Broadway, Low-Wage Workers Demand a $15 Minimum Wage Ordinance

Today, low-wage workers, faith leaders, striking nurses and allies marched down West Broadway, demanding the Minneapolis City Council pass a $15 minimum wage ordinance as soon as possible. The march stopped at big businesses that profit off of poverty, including fast food restaurants, payday lending companies, and banks.

“We know since this country’s inception, the wealth that has been built in this country has been built off of Black and brown bodies,” said Rod Adams, economic justice organizer with Neighborhoods Organizing for Change. “We are here to take a stand against poverty and the big businesses that keep people in poverty, and to demand the city council pass an ordinance for a $15 minimum wage now.”

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“I’ve worked for Burger King for five years and am only making $9.75 an hour,” said Lexi Collins, a CTUL member and fast food employee in North Minneapolis. “On top of that, we don’t get paid for all of the hours that we work. They use a lot of different tactics to make sure that we don’t get all of our money.  We need fifteen dollars an hour now. I can’t afford my own housing because of how little we are paid and I can’t get assistance because they say I make too much so I am stuck. Too many of us are stuck, and $15 an hour could change this. We are going to keep fighting until we win!” She held an oversized check which read $237.50 for one week’s hard work, reflecting her actual wages.

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Though the Minnesota Supreme Court sided with the Minneapolis City Council last month and blocked a $15 minimum wage charter amendment from the ballot, low-wage workers have vowed to run one of the largest grassroots campaigns in Minneapolis history to win a $15 minimum wage. Today’s march launched the next phase of the campaign: demanding the Minneapolis City Council pass a $15 minimum wage ordinance now.

“I have five children that I take care of, and at $11/hour I can barely afford to pay my rent every month. I can barely afford child care and I can barely afford to take my kids to child care. $15 would make it a lot better for me as a mother to take care of my kids,” said Rosheeda Credit, a NOC leader who works as a personal care attendant. “To live in Minneapolis and not be able to take care of our families is very upsetting. For them to tell us we have no choice but poverty wages is wrong. For us to work all day every day and only afford to just pay rent is wrong.”

The march, led by fast food workers organizing with CTUL, started at Wendy’s and proceeded down West Broadway with stops at Ace Payday Lending, Burger King, McDonald’s, and US Bank.

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Outside Ace Payday Lending, people who had gotten stuck in the debt trap told their stories about how payday lending preys off of poverty wages. "People that don't make a living wage can't afford an emergency. Payday lenders trap you in a cycle of predatory debt. They get rich off the backs of the poor. It's time to end poverty wages and the predatory lending that's bleeding our communities dry," said Pastor Paul Slack, president of ISAIAH.

Workers called on the Minneapolis City Council to listen to the people, not big businesses that profit off of poverty wages, and pass a $15 minimum wage now as a critical step toward closing the city’s glaring racial and economic disparities.

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"In Minnesota, black people are three times more likely to be unemployed than white people, and three times less likely to own a home," said Nestor Garcia Olague, an organizer with 15 Now Minnesota and a North Minneapolis resident. "But my council member Blong Yang and the Council majority have shown more commitment to corporations paying CEO's thousands of dollars an hour, like McDonald's and Wendy's, by blocking $15/hour from voters and the low-wage workers most affected by poverty pay. No procedural arguments can stand in the way of City Council raising the minimum wage to $15/hr. We demand that City Council pass our ordinance for $15/hr, which 68% of Minneapolis residents support, with no carve-outs, with no exceptions."

Nurses with the Minnesota Nurses Association, who are currently on strike, also joined the rally to support raising the minimum wage and workers’ rights. After the rally, low-wage workers joined the striking nurses and headed to Buffalo Wild Wings, which has a representative on the board of Allina Health, to demand a fair contract for nurses.

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"We’re here supporting $15/hour because this is about our community. Poverty is a leading cause of sickness, of not having proper access to food and healthcare. It’s these same businesses that lobbied the Minneapolis City Council to keep $15 off the ballot that are trying to break our union and push for-profit healthcare,” said Katie Quarles, an MNA nurse on strike and member of the MNA board of directors who collected signatures for a $15 minimum wage in Minneapolis. “Nurses are standing up to Allina and striking to build a movement of workers that can fight for better working conditions, quality pay and our right to collectively organize.”

Workers vowed to keep fighting until the City Council passes an ordinance for a $15 minimum wage. “I’m here for the mothers and fathers who can’t stand here, the families who can’t be here right now,” said Rosheeda Credit. “We need $15 and this fight is not going to stop until we get $15.”

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