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Civil rights groups launch push to get $15 minimum wage on Minneapolis ballot

Courtesy of 15 Now Minnesota
Members of 15 Now Minnesota and CTUL marching in downtown Minneapolis on Thursday in support of union janitors striking for $15 an hour.

After many back and forth arguments over $15 an hour last year between advocates, policy makers and business owners, Minneapolis voters may end up being the ones deciding on whether or not to raise the city’s minimum wage.

Supporters of a citywide $15 an hour minimum wage are planning to put the issue on the ballot this fall, and are launching their campaign on Feb. 27 to begin collecting the required 7,000 signatures for the referendum to be recognized by the city.

The initiative is backed by a coalition of civil rights and workers’ rights advocacy groups, including 15 Now Minnesota, the Minneapolis NAACP, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL), Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, and Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, according to organizers.

15 Now organizer Kip Hedges said that while the groups haven’t begun to collect signatures yet, he’s confident the campaign will be well on its way to 7,000 by the end of spring. And he thinks much of the campaign will be galvanized by people of color who live and work in the city. “The racial equity gap is one of the key things involved in this effort,” he said. “Closing that, addressing it, having a discussion on it. So, that will be a major part of what we’re talking about.”

Minneapolis NAACP president Nekima Levy-Pounds, who will be the keynote speaker at the campaign kickoff this Saturday, said the NAACP will continue to support advocates of a $15 an hour minimum wage because too many African Americans live at or below the poverty line.

“I do believe that people of color will benefit from a $15 an hour minimum wage because we are overrepresented amongst the working poor,” Levy-Pounds said. “We see too many families experiencing food and housing instability as a result of their pay checks not extending far enough. This is a way of ensuring greater levels of equity for people of color.”

Minneapolis NAACP president Nekima Levy-Pounds
MinnPost photo by Ibrahim Hirsi
Minneapolis NAACP president Nekima

Anquanette Hollman has been working in the fast food industry for a couple years, she said, and $15 an hour would mean the difference between being independent and depending on her mom to help support her and her three daughters. “I have kids to feed,” she said. “And $9 an hour is not cutting it.”

Hollman, who’s black, said it makes sense for people who are affected by the minimum wage most to be the ones who determine it. She marched with CTUL last Thursday, when supporters of union janitors striking for $15 an hour blocked freeway entrances into downtown Minneapolis during morning rush hour.

As a single mom, Hollman said, she needs to worry about her kids needs on top of paying rent, utilities, car insurance, food and her phone bill. She said $15 an hour would make a huge difference in the quality of her life. “I could take care and provide for my family,” she said. “It would mean the world.”

Saturday’s campaign launch will take place at the Brian Coyle Center in south Minneapolis from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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Comments (6)

  1. Submitted by John Appelen on 02/26/2016 - 03:36 pm.

    Wish them well

    I hope they get it passed. The suburbs will get more jobs… 🙂

  2. Submitted by David LaPorte on 02/27/2016 - 06:56 am.

    In your dreams.Data from the

    In your dreams.

    Data from the Pew Research Center has shown that the largest category of minimum wage employees, by more than a factor of three, are food preparation and serving. Cheap restaurants have to be where the people are. The suburbs already have plenty of restaurants, so moving the Minneapolis restaurants is not an option.

    Janitors are also high on the list. Paying the custodial staff is a tiny fraction of a building’s operating expenses. Do you really think that they’ll build a new building just to save an insignificant amount of money?

    Surely the United States is wealthy enough to let these people have a tiny share of our prosperity.

    • Submitted by joe smith on 02/27/2016 - 09:04 am.

      Good luck with 15$ an hour for unskilled labor. The workforce will be decreased and price of products will go up. The numbers of employees will get skewed by media (who want this increase). To push the Obama agenda, when 1 worker who made a good salary with benefits got fired to hire 2 part time workers (no benefits) the media claimed the work force was growing. That is how you have record numbers workers NOT in the work force (94M), manufacturing jobs moved off shore, record number of folks on welfare (including those 2 part timers), have middle class workers LOSING $3,250 per year in salary past 7 years and have black unemployment EXPLODING. Things are getting better according to media….Good luck.

  3. Submitted by joe smith on 02/28/2016 - 07:53 pm.

    No I said full time good paying jobs with benefits have been replaced with part time workers who DON’T make enough money to live off and are on of the many welfare programs out there to help the needy. Then the media claims there is job growth because 2 part timers replaced one full time worker.

  4. Submitted by Frank Phelan on 02/29/2016 - 08:24 am.

    A rising tide of higher wages for low wage workers will lift all boats. They will not burn the extra cash, or bury it in the ground. it will be spent immediately, and create just a bit of (badly needed and nearly non-existent) upward pressure on wages overall.

    But perhaps conservatives are unfamiliar with the concept of rising tides lifting all boats.

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