At a high-energy rally in Minneapolis City Hall, Minneapolis workers organizing with Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL), Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC), and 15 Now delivered nearly 20,000 signatures in support of a $15 minimum wage to Minneapolis City Clerk Casey Carl today.
Workers chanted, danced, and cheered as they handed over the 20,000 signatures, nearly three times the number required to put the question on the ballot, collected over just nine weeks.
“I’ve worked in fast food for over 15 years and I have never been paid enough money to be able to live and not just survive. I see so many of my co-workers doing what they can to get by and we deserve to be paid a living wage. Nine dollars an hour is not a living wage. I am feeling positive about the work we’ve been doing. We fought for paid sick days and were able to win that so I’m excited that we can raise the minimum wage to $15 in Minneapolis as well,” said Steven Suffridge, CTUL member and McDonald’s employee, speaking at a rally outside a south Minneapolis McDonald’s before the signature delivery.
Over the past several years, low-wage workers in Minneapolis have demanded a $15 minimum wage and stronger protections as crucial steps toward closing Minneapolis’ racial and economic disparities, which are among the worst in the nation. Workers have gone on strike, held rallies, and marched on City Hall. On Monday, national and local legal experts released a memo detailing the legal basis for raising the minimum wage to $15 in Minneapolis by charter amendment in advance of Wednesday’s signature delivery.
More than 35 cities across the country have passed municipal minimum wages since the Fight for 15 began in 2012. Many of these wage increases have been decided by voters at the ballot box.
“For the first half of my kids’ lives, I was working up to ninety hours a week, never making more than $11 or $12, and still struggling to keep my lights on,” said TeCara Monn, co-canvass director of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change. “I wanted to be there for my kids, make them breakfast and dinner, go to their school events. But they were cooking for themselves at age seven because I couldn’t be home with them. A $15 minimum wage isn’t just about workers, it’s about our families. I registered to vote for the first time so I could vote for $15. This shows we can really make a change.”
The City Clerk’s office will verify the signatures, and report in the coming weeks whether the $15 for Minneapolis campaign qualifies for the ballot. The campaign needs 6,869 verified signatures to qualify. Recently, a group petitioning for Minneapolis police to carry personal insurance fell short of the required threshold, but city process allows a 10-day window to collect more signatures and the police insurance campaign could still qualify for the November ballot.
"Living on minimum wage is very hard for me and too many people in Minneapolis. I'm always struggling to get basic things I need for my home and myself like keeping food on the table on a regular basis. It's not like I fell behind on my bills because I had a slow week at work, this is every paycheck that we have to play catch up,” said CTUL member and Burger King employee Donnell Martin. “My hours get cut at work and that puts me even further behind on things that I need to pay for in order to survive. I'm excited about having the possibility to vote for 15. This would mean that I could have transportation and wouldn't have to walk to work everyday and my life would be less stressful."
Members of the Minnesota Nurses Association, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers, Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, People of Color Union Members, Communications Workers of America, Minnesota Public Interest Research Group (MPIRG), Socialist Alternative, and Sierra Club joined today’s rally and signature delivery in support of the campaign. Workers and activists for $15/hour say they’ll do whatever it takes to win a $15 minimum wage, continuing actions through the summer to ensure $15 goes to voters in November. A Feldman Group poll last fall showed 82% of likely Minneapolis voters support a $15 minimum wage. “Our campaign aims to speak to thousands of workers across Minneapolis to get active in this historic fight,” said Kip Hedges, a retired Delta baggage handler and organizer with 15 Now. “We don’t want the voices of 20,000 supporters silenced, and we are building the campaign to win in November.”