With 82% support for $15 minimum wage in Minneapolis, is it time to bypass City Hall?


Justice for Jamar Clark has revealed Minneapolis’ racial equity gap in more ways than one. Even as the City Council majority, led by Council President Barb Johnson and Mayor Betsy Hodges, pushed to shut down the Fourth Precinct encampment, no proposals to address the economic devastation on the North Side or police violence were forthcoming.

As if we needed more proof that the City Council majority and the mayor have no real plan to address racial and economic inequality, in October the Council voted 10-3 to scuttle fair scheduling proposals. A proposal for paid sick days was sent to a committee where it awaits an uncertain fate. All of this is in spite of a poll showing overwhelming public support for city action to guarantee paid sick days and a $15 per hour minimum wage for all workers.

The poll, which appeared on the MplsWorks website in October (conducted by the Feldman Group), shows a stunning 82 percent support among likely Minneapolis voters for a $15 per hour minimum wage and 91 percent support for paid sick days. This is greater than support for clean drinking water, renewable energy and the Minnesota Vikings.

It’s clear that most city leaders listen to the CEO’s of the Minnesota Business Partnership, such as US Bank and the like. It is equally clear that they don’t listen to the thousands of workers who, under the MplsWorks banner, have rallied, marched and petitioned for months in support of fair scheduling, paid sick days, an end to wage theft and $15.

How can we overcome the resistance at City Hall and big business domination of city politics and make $15 a reality in a city that suffers from disturbing economic, racial and gender inequality? Municipal elections in 2017 might offer a way to bring more progressive minded council members into office, but that is two years away. And as the saying goes, “The rent won’t wait.” We have an emergency in our city that needs to be acted on much more quickly.

Workers and activists need to have a sober discussion about how we can bring existing, overwhelming popular support to bear to make $15 a reality in Minneapolis. A ballot initiative that would allow the voters to decide could be the way forward. A similar effort in St. Paul could succeed as well.

Big business will certainly dig in their heels, as they did around fair scheduling and paid sick days. The Minnesota Business Partnership will spare no expense to try to roll back public support for $15. Those in favor of a living wage and racial and economic equality will need to counter with our own fundraising efforts and bring an army of volunteers into the field. While none of this will be easy, the wind is clearly blowing in our direction. We just need to move our resistant political leaders out of the way.

15 thoughts on “With 82% support for $15 minimum wage in Minneapolis, is it time to bypass City Hall?

  1. Entry level jobs are not intended to support a family. Get an education, learn a trade, help yourself out. Get ready for 9 dollars cheeseburgers if this becomes reality. Also curious to see what demographic was targeted for the survey.

    • The poll had a sample size of 400 likely voters for a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points. All respondents surveyed had participated in at least one of the 2013 or 2014 elections. The sample design allows the pollsters to gauge attitudes of likely municipal voters, while also including general election voters. Interviewing was conducted September 8-10 by professional interviewers. More information on the poll can be found here.

    • Baloney sandwich. Most people earning at or near minimum wage are ADULTS. Who says that a person who works an honest job for 40 hours does not deserve to able to feed, clothe, and shelter himself and at least one child? Guess what: that is the sick reality, because wages have not kept pace with productivity since the inception of the minimum. If they had, the minimum would start at $22. There are people living in their cars because they can’t afford rent, but they keep working for scraps out of pride. When social services enable more humane living conditions than a full time paycheck, what do you think happens?

    • Entry level jobs, like any job, are intended to provide the employer with as large a portion of the workers value as possible. $15/hr will only level the playing field a bit. You need to study economics to understand what employment is before you comment.

  2. No surprise, lets not post someones comment if it doesn’t support our agenda. You may get your $15/hr eventually, but then you’ll all be out of a job.

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  3. Trunkroot – It’s important to remember that without the labor of low wage workers not a single wheel would turn in our country. The people who roof your house, sheet rock it, paint it and frame it quite often are low wage workers. They take care of our children and our elderly parents. They sterilize surgical instruments, do hospital laundry, bring you to the Operating Room and cook your hospital food. Low wage workers make sure you get properly checked in to your flight, load your aircraft properly so it doesn’t crash, clean the aircraft inside and out and do weight and balance work. Workers that are in poverty pick your crops and make sure you have food. Many of these jobs used to pay a living wage. Because of relentless outsourcing by companies jobs that used to pay $20/hour now pay $10. It has to be time to push the value of our labor up to a living wage.

      • Work already is more valuable. The employer wouldn’t hire anyone to begin with if he couldn’t take a portion of the workers value. $15/hr just evens the playing field a bit. You must be uneducated regarding economics

  4. Pingback: With 82% Support for $15/hour in Minneapolis, is it time to by pass City Hall? | 15 Now Minnesota

  5. Minimum wage employment may have been a very temporary status at one time but in today’s economy many are stuck at or near minimum wage for years, with little benefits or protections. In addition, we have not raised the minimum wage to keep up with either inflation or productivity so a minimum wage doesn’t go very far in 2015. That is the reality of today’s job market and, as Bernie Sanders and others have said, no one should work full time and live in poverty. We need to raise the minimum to $15 as soon as possible.

  6. In the wealthiest country the world has ever seen, no one should live in poverty. And especially not working people. It contradicts the “American Dream.” The same folks who sold us that dream are the ones who will change the rules at every opportunity so they can remain in control…that is until the people begin to see thru their BS and call them on it.
    In the future we will be embarrassed that we allowed economic apartheid to happen in our city while remaining silent for so long. If white poverty was as prevalent as poc poverty, city council would have acted decades ago before things even got to these extremes.
    The Bryant Neighborhood Organization just endorsed 15Now. I suggest other neighborhood associations to follow. We live in the era of grassroots organizing for change. And I BELIVE THAT WE WILL WIN!
    #blacklivesmatter #justice4jamar

  7. Such a major increase would have the same effect as devaluing the dollar. Let me explain. If anyone thinks that the people currently making $15/h will remain content after that becomes the Min wage is nuts. Pay raises will end up happening across the board. So thats good for everyone right? Not really because the cost is passed on to the consumer and the end result is that minimum wage has no better buying power than they do now. Despite the increase. So in the end it would only decrease the value of the dollar and nothing more.

    Minimum wage should be adjusted for inflation only.

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