At the February General Membership Meeting there was a community vote in favor of having the Lyndale Neighborhood Association (LNA) take a position supporting an increase in the minimum wage. The position adopted at the meeting is that LNA supports raising the minimum wage to $9.50/hour over three years, indexing it to inflation, and including a tip credit.
The action taken during the meeting was months in the making. The effort to have LNA take this position started this past fall when a group of community members spent time canvassing Lyndale to ask people about issues in the neighborhood and to educate people about Ranked Choice Voting. One of the primary issues that came up was how LNA could support low-wage workers as a way to help address housing, food access, and education issues in the neighborhood.
This was the second month in a row where minimum wage legislation was discussed at the General Membership meeting. The majority of the discussion centered on whether LNA should take a position advocating for the legislation or whether the organization should focus on providing community members with information on the issue without taking a position.
The people speaking in favor of LNA taking a position spoke a lot about their personal history working or their family’s history working for minimum wage and how difficult it was for them to make ends meet. As Tricia said when her family immigrated to New York her mom had to work three minimum wage jobs to make ends meet and that meant for five years she saw her maybe five minutes a day.
A number of speakers said LNA has a responsibility to support efforts that improve the quality of life for people in the neighborhood. Myrtle said she was supporting LNA taking a position advocating for the legislation because LNA has a “moral and ethical responsibility to help people improve their lives.”
Adrianna who recently worked minimum wage jobs spoke about how she was supporting LNA advocating on the issue because she would rather be able to work to make ends meet than have to take government assistance.
Tim said he had thought about this for a long-time and that he was supporting LNA taking a position because LNA does so much work making the neighborhood better, which increases property values in ways that make it hard for low-income people to stay in the neighborhood and “that there isn’t anything we can do on this scale that can make rent go down or make food cheaper.”
The other option that received a lot of support was having LNA not take a position on the issue, but conduct outreach to encourage people to contact their legislators about their position on the issue. Cindy spoke eloquently about how she personally supported an increase in the minimum wage, but that she was supporting the education only option because “We live in a neighborhood that has more than 37 people in it…[and] If we say yes, we risk ostracizing other people in the neighborhood.” She asked people to vote for the education option, “so we can be an unbiased source of information.”
Other concerns raised at the meeting were by Peter who asked whether or not we were taking into consideration how this would impact people living on fixed incomes and by Ruben who was concerned about not knowing the full impact of the legislation. The final vote was 19 people in favor of LNA taking a position advocating for an increase in the minimum wage and 10 people in favor of LNA not taking a position and just conducting outreach and education.
Adopting an official position means LNA will begin reaching out to encourage community members to let their legislators know why the neighborhood supports an increase in the minimum wage. This work will primarily focus on reaching out to residents and business in the neighborhood asking them to get involved.
LNA’s outreach efforts will be respectful of people’s position on the issue and will make sure that anyone they talk to has the contact info for their legislators whether or not they support an increase in the minimum wage. LNA’s work will also include monitoring legislation at the capital and working with Lyndale’s legislators and other organizations supporting the minimum wage.
Anyone interested in working on this issue should contact Jennifer at Jennifer@lyndale.org/ 612.824.9402 x 15.