All posts by 15 Now

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ICYMI: NYTimes Editorial Board on Sexual Harassment, #metoo, Wage Theft in Restaurants

On March 12th, 2018, the New York Times Editorial Board wrote,
“[The tip penalty] discrepancy hurts workers by putting them at greater risk of wage theft, sexual harassment and other workplace exploitation — bosses can easily withhold or steal tips, especially from workers they don’t like or who refuse their propositions. These are hardly idle threats, as demonstrated by the recent allegations of abuse against prominent chefs and restaurant owners and the multimillion-dollar wage theft settlements workers have secured in recent years by suing unscrupulous employers.”
Read the full NYTimes piece here: http://nyti.ms/2u4aeaV

The federal tipped minimum wage is $2.13. The service industry is one of the fastest growing job markets in the U.S., made up of a majority women workers. In light of the growing #metoo movement, many restaurant workers are organizing and standing up to call attention to rampant sexual harassment and wage theft.

The National Restaurant Association, no friend of workers,  is a big business lobby that fights to roll back minimum wage victories won through the struggles and movements of working people in states and cities like Minneapolis, Seattle, California, and even republican controlled South Dakota. In Minneapolis, workers won a $15 minimum wage with Trump in office, and while the political establishment in City Hall first called $15 illegal, then impossible — but through building in communities, workplaces, on high school and college campuses, we won.

Our movement has shown that the #fightfor15 #15Now has been won by unapologetically relying on the independent power of working people, as a step to address the systematic racism, economic inequality, and sexism embedded and exemplified in U.S. capitalism. As Sarah Leonard pointed out in her piece on working class women addressing sexual predators who aren’t famous (like the Harvey Weinstein allegations that sparked #metoo), “For these women, shaming their bosses on Twitter or going to a newspaper is, unfortunately, rarely an option — if the predator doesn’t have a big public profile, few will notice the complaint except, perhaps, the guy with the power to fire the person complaining. That’s why women in these fields often take another route: collective action.

With the Trump administration attacking workers rights and rolling back department of labor protections, it’s more urgent than ever to fight back, to defend what workers movements have won in the past, and demand #15forAll workers.

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We built a movement, and WON

Over 71,000 Minneapolis workers are getting a RAISE!

After three years of strikes, protests, and a ballot initiative last year, the grassroots movement fighting for $15/hour made possible what the political establishment said was impossible.

From a far-out demand initiated in 2012 by fast food workers in New York City, the $15/hour movement has swept the United States. But big business is doing everything it can, from the billionaire backed Trump administration’s attack on workers’ rights to throwing resources to back state legislation to make raising the minimum wage in cities like Minneapolis illegal.

But our movement is winning.
Help us grow the 15 Now movement by
donating $15 today!

Minneapolis is the first midwest city to win $15/hour.
Let’s continue building the movement to win #15forAll50.

Solidarity,
15 Now

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Minneapolis is getting a raise

After years of strikes and organizing across Minneapolis, over 71,000 workers are on the verge of winning a $15 minimum wage in Minneapolis.

Minneapolis City Council introduced language on June 6th to pass a $15 minimum wage later this month! This is a huge victory for workers who’ve built a movement across Minneapolis, and gathered nearly 20,000 signatures for #1FairWage of $15 for all workers by 2022, no exemptions.

We are so close to winning $15 with #1FairWage in Minneapolis. But we can’t let upnow.
Donate $15 today to get $15/hour over the finish line! Get involved with 15 Now!

When we organize, we can win! Our movement has built massive support across Minneapolis, and workers organizing has brought tremendous pressure on City Council to pass $15. Until the very last vote, our work is not finished! We built enough pressure from below that even the Chamber of Commerce has accepted $15, but they will fight to defend their profits by trying to undermine the proposal: for example, by artificially extending the implementation period, or exempting young workers.

Join 15 Now on June 22nd at City Hall, beginning at 3:30, or as soon as you can join us! Let’s deliver a clear message to city council: a $15minimum wage means economic opportunity for women and workers of color disproportionately filling low-wage jobs. Delaying $15 means keeping working people in a fight to survive, not fully living. Minneapolis demands $15/hour, lifting over 71,000 workers by 2022, no carve-outs, with real enforcement to ensure that wage theft doesn’t undermine our victory when $15 becomes the law.

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Minimum Wage Victories in 2016 Show We Can Beat Trump’s Agenda

Minimum wage victories swept the nation in 2016, with $15 winning in Washington D.C., parts of Oregon and New York, the entire state of California and more, resulting in raises for 11.8 million people. In the past four years of the nationwide fight for $15, low-wage workers have won $62 billion in wage increases (NELP report).

In Minnesota, as in Ohio most recently, the state government could block workers’ rights legislation at the local level. It’s called pre-emption, and it’s been happening in states across the country. And at the national level, Trump has even appointed a Fast Food CEO as labor secretary, someone who says he doesn’t believe in a minimum wage!

Watch, share, and retweet the 15 Now MN video on pre-emption:

Our movements have won tremendous victories since fast-food workers first took strike action in 2012. Low-wage workers pushed $15/hr on the agenda in the first place, and it’s going to take a powerful movement of low-wage workers to fight back against people like Trump and Andrew Puzder, the CEO of Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr, and the President-elect’s pick for  the new Secretary of Labor. Puzder is against raising minimum wage, fiercely anti-union, and a strong advocate for “trickle down” economics. That makes sense. The average full time Hardee’s worker makes $15,130 a year. Meanwhile, Andrew Puzder made $17,162……. a day!

Puzder will fit right into the new administration. In addition to its rampant poverty wages, Hardee’s ads have been criticized for objectifying women. When asked about this, Puzder said “I like our ads. I like beautiful women eating burgers in bikinis. I think it’s very American.”

Puzder claims
 that paying people a living wage will be an added regulatory cost that businesses will have to offset by increasing unemployment, which data clearly shows is not the case. According to a recent release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the city of Seattle, which passed a $15 ordinance almost 2 years ago, hit a new cycle low of 3.4% unemployment.

When people like Trump and Puzder say “make America great again”, they mean to make their billionaire buddies richer at the expense of working people. We can’t wait for Trump’s team to put forth “trickle down” policies that will only benefit people like Trump and their colleagues. We need to build mass movements to fight against right-wing attacks and for working people.

Big business interests will use every tool they have to continue raking in record profits: whether it’s lobbying for a tip penalty and other carve-outs that undermine minimum wage, or by ramming through pre-emption legislation across the states.

We need to continue building our movement, to demand that elected officials don’t leave the door open for Trump’s agenda and corporate attacks!

Help us grow the movement. Donate at www.15now.org/donate

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Community and Labor Groups Join Fight for $15 Minimum Wage in Minneapolis

Watch press conference full video here.
Powerful labor and faith groups announced Thursday they are uniting behind the fight for a $15/hour minimum wage in Minneapolis, and will make the issue a top priority after this November’s elections.

“I’m here today as a mother of five for all the mothers, fathers, and children who can’t be here. I’ve never made more than $11/hour and I’m fighting for a better future for my family.  I put my blood, my sweat, my tears, and my soul into my job, helping other people — but I’m barely helping myself,” said Rosheeda Credit, a NOC member who works as a personal care attendant. “I’m excited that so many new partners are joining us in this fight. This should be something that’s passed for everybody.”

On Tuesday, the Minnesota AFL-CIO – a federation of over 1000 local unions representing over 300,000 workers in Minnesota – officially endorsed the campaign to raise wages for workers at the municipal level, including the fight for $15 in Minneapolis. The AFL-CIO’s local affiliate, the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, pledged to use its collective power to organize workers in the fight for $15. “We are at a critical moment in the history of the worker’s movement as income inequality has grown to staggering proportions, creating a crisis for low-wage and middle-class workers,” said Chelsie Glaubitz, president of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation. “This, combined with the rise of the on-demand economy, is leaving too many people –especially women and people of color — behind.  Workers deserve a voice in their workplace.”

SEIU Local 26, which represents over 6,000 janitors, security officers and window cleaners, also announced their commitment to expand their struggle to the fight for $15 for all workers in Minneapolis. “Janitors with SEIU Local 26 fought and won $15 in our last contract, which has made a huge impact on my life. But while that was a great gain for us, I have immediate family in Minneapolis who make less than $15 and I know that puts incredible pressure on them just to survive,” said Valentina McKenzie, a janitor at Union Depot. “That is why I am excited for this movement, because everyone deserves to be able to pay their bills and provide for their family. Even though we already won $15 for union janitors, I’m excited to join this fight to make sure everyone can get there.”

“We are committed to winning a $15 minimum wage for all workers because companies should compete based on their goods and services, not on who can sell a cheaper tomato by paying the lowest wage. That is why we are partnering with community organizations to organize retail workers to win $15,” said Rena Wong, organizing director of UFCW Local 653, which represents more than 10,000 retail, meat manufacturing, food preparation, healthcare, and other workers in Minnesota.

ISAIAH, a coalition of over 100 faith organizations in Minnesota, helped organize the first mass doorknock of the ordinance campaign last weekend, which drew out over 50 volunteers. “People of faith are joining the fight for $15,” said Rev. Paul Slack, the pastor of New Creation Church and the president of ISAIAH. “We believe that no one should work and make poverty wages. We will be activating our churches to engage in the struggle for dignity for all workers.”

Labor groups announcing their support for the fight for a $15 minimum wage in Minneapolis include AFSCME Council 5, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU), Bakers (BCTGM) Local 22, Communication Workers of America (CWA) State Council, Minneapolis Federation of Teachers and ESP’s (MFT) Local 59, Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation (MRLF), Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA), National Association of Letter Carriers (NALC) Branch 9, People of Color Union Member Caucus, SEIU Minnesota State Council, Teamsters Local 320, UNITE HERE Local 17, United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 563, and Working America.

On Saturday, October 15th, the coalition plans to gather hundreds of workers, community activists, union members, supportive small businesses, and members of the faith community for a mass organizing conference to build action groups in each Minneapolis ward.

“I’m one of the 64 million people who make less than $15 minimum wage,” said Guillermo Lindsay, a leader with CTUL and fast food employee. “This fight was started by fast food workers all across the county because we are tired of making poverty wages while the bosses are making millions of dollars every year. We are going to continue to organize in the workplace and in the streets together, as one until we win $15 in Minneapolis.”

“In a city where the CEO of Target makes $9,000/hour, big business will continue fighting for every carve-out and exemption, even while Minneapolis supports $15/hr as a major economic opportunity, especially for women and workers of color who disproportionately fill low-wage jobs,”said Ginger Jentzen, the Executive Director of 15 Now Minnesota. “Polls show 68% support for our proposal, which gets every worker to $15/hour by 2022 with no exceptions, and we’re organizing to activate this support into a broad, grassroots campaign to win.”

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Build a Movement to Fight Racism and Poverty – 15 Now Minnesota Statement on Philando Castile Murder

via 15 Now Minnesota
The atrocious murders of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling at the hands of police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota have triggered a national fightback to demand justice for black lives. So far in 2016, police have killed 136 black people in the U.S. Unfortunately, a peaceful demonstration in Dallas was marred by the horrific deaths of 5 police officers by snipers. 15 Now Minnesota condemns this violent act, which will not help to win a united movement against the systemic racism, poverty, and injustices disproportionately faced by communities of color.   

Thousands are angry, pouring into massive demonstrations in New York, St. Paul, Oakland, but many are already skeptical that an investigation will bring justice. Even in spite of the live, viral videos, in the case of Eric Garner and other young black victims of police violence, the grand jury process and Department of Justice investigations have not resulted in convictions or jail time for police officers.

15 Now Minnesota stands in solidarity with the movement for black lives. We demand the officers involved be indicted. We call for a united movement of working people to fight for our communities’ basic needs: an end to systemic, racial profiling, for fully-funded public education, a $15 minimum wage, and jobs with full union rights.

Working people face a Tale of Two Cities in our metro area. The Twin Cities are home to 20 Fortune 500 companies, and yet some of the worst racial equity outcomes in education and poverty rates in the US. We need a top-to-bottom restructuring of the police departments. We need an end to “broken windows” policing and the war on drugs, which is really a war on young people of color and an end to the school-to-prison pipeline which traps millions into a deep cycle of poverty.

In Minneapolis, supporters of a $15 minimum wage handed in 20,000 signatures to put a charter amendment for $15 on the November ballot. Another organization, the Committee for Responsible Policing, has proposed an amendment to require personal insurance for police officers. But City Hall has indicated being “ideologically opposed” to petitions that amend the City Charter. The city establishment has signaled that it hopes to keep both measures off the ballot, despite refusing to take action on the injustices facing communities of color and working people in Minneapolis. We refuse to allow the signers for both petitions to be silenced: Let voters decide!

At the vigil and occupation outside the Governor’s mansion, union members showed up in scrubs and transit driver uniforms, to stand against the murder of Castile who was a union member and St. Paul Public School employee. The labor movement should go further and mobilize its members to protect the peaceful demonstrations demanding justice for Philando Castile, and actively build the fight for $15/hour as a concrete step against low-wage jobs that are disproportionately filled by women and people of color. After the snipers in Dallas and white supremacists shot at the 4th precinct occupation last winter, violence against protesters could be used to repress the peaceful Black Lives Matter mobilizations.

Winning $15 in Minneapolis would raise the confidence of workers across the Twin Cities, demonstrating that when we organize and build coordinated actions, we can win. To win justice for Philando, we must build demonstrations, rallies, walk-outs and actions demanding an end to the racial profiling that is killing black, working class people nationwide. We are organizing for a concrete victory in a fight against the business as usual racism that has resulted in the devastation of working class, communities of color. By building a united movement, we can win a $15 minimum wage and strike a blow against the racist system of poverty wages.

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15 Now MN: We Put $15 on the Agenda, Now Let’s Win!

* Visit Votefor15MN.org to donate *

Today was one of the most powerful experiences I’ve had in the over 30 years I’ve spent as a worker and an activist fighting for social justice. Several hundred workers and supporters marched on City Hall and handed in 20,000 signatures to put $15/hour on the ballot in November. This initiative is about empowering working people in Minneapolis to address Minneapolis’ worst in the nation racial and economic inequalities. It took an enormous effort to get this far, but now we need to win in November. We need your help!

We must be ready for big business to spend millions of dollars to protect their profits and defeat a living wage. We need to raise one million dollars to win this campaign. If we win, it means almost a billion dollar transfer of wealth from big business into the hands of working people annually. That means every dollar we raise puts $1,000 directly into the pockets of Minneapolis workers.

Can you dig deep, and donate $48 dollars to win this campaign? That’s how much more a minimum wage worker would make every day if we win $15!

We’re gaining momentum, but this has been an uphill battle from the beginning.  Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and a majority of the City Council oppose a phased in $15 wage despite the fact that polls show that 82% of likely voters favor such a measure.  Ten weeks ago, we launched a vibrant campaign to collect signatures to put $15 on the ballot. Over a hundred people volunteered over 2,000 hours of their time to knock on doors in working class neighborhoods and engage those directly affected by poverty wages. Our campaign has been funded by ordinary people, with over 700 people making small donations to make this campaign possible.

Getting 20,000 signatures is only the first hurdle, however, for the fight for $15/hr in Minneapolis.  The City Attorney and some City Council members have raised questions about the legality of a Charter Amendment.  We’ve proven this initiative is perfectly legal for Minneapolis, but we all know there is a long history of politicians disenfranchising workers and people of color when it comes to defending the interests of big business.  But a key aspect of our legal strategy is building a movement of working people who can stand up to the Chamber of Commerce lawyers.

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Steven, a McDonald’s worker organizing with CTUL, signing the final signature

There is a powerful coalition forming to win $15/hour. It includes 15 Now Minnesota, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC), Centro de Trabajadores en Lucha (CTUL) and Socialist Alternative – Unions like the Minnesota Nurses Association, Communications Workers of America and many others – faith groups, neighborhood organizations, retiree associations and college students. We’ve printed materials in English, Spanish, Somali, Oromo and Hmong. We’ve hosted organizing meetings across the city in churches and mosques, workplace break rooms and small businesses, campuses and retirement homes.

With your financial support, we can build an unstoppable working class movement to win $15/hour and beyond. Donate today.

-Kip Hedges, Retired Baggage Handler and 15 Now Organizer

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Justices Reject Franchises’ Appeal over Seattle’s $15 min. Wage — McDonalds is NOT a Small business

Our Movement is Winning! Join the fight for 15 Now!
Donate to grow the movement today: www.15Now.org/donate

From the Washington Post
SEATTLE — The U.S. Supreme Court weighed in for the first time Monday on a $15-an-hour minimum wage, signaling it does not plan to stop the movement that is spreading across the nation, worker advocates say.
The justices refused to hear a challenge to Seattle’s law, which franchise owners said discriminates against them by treating them as large businesses.

From The Stranger (Seattle)
The International Franchise Association argued the law discriminated against franchises and violated the Commerce Clause. They lost that argument last year in U.S. District Court and the 9th Circuit. [The May 2nd] decision means those lower court decisions will stand. That’s good news for workers in Seattle and in cities across the country looking to follow our lead on $15.

 

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Over 100 volunteers gather 4,000 signatures in eight days to put $15/hour proposal on November ballot

Media Coverage in the Star Tribune and TC Daily Planet

Momentum behind the campaign to bring a $15 minimum wage to voters in Minneapolis is picking up! In the first week of signature collection to get $15 on the ballot, 15 Now and other supporting organizations engaged over 100 volunteers who gathered over 4,000 signatures. The speed and success in its first week of petition gathering and fundraising, combined with victories for $15 across the country, shows Minneapolis is ready for $15/hour.

Support for $15 has been growing for months. On Super Tuesday, 15 Now volunteers passed resolutions in every Minneapolis ward supporting the $15 ballot initiative, and in 100 precincts across the Twin Cities. Sanders decisively won at the Minneapolis caucuses, by 65% or more in some precincts, calling for a $15 minimum wage. Workers have gone on strike numerous times demanding $15/hour, alongside a package of workers’ rights reforms.

A poll released last fall conducted by the Feldman Group showed 82% of likely Minneapolis voters supported $15/hour phased in over time. The charter amendment proposes big business raise wages to $15 over 3.75 years, with an extended phase-up over 5.75 years to $15 for small-medium sized businesses. The first step for all workers (to $10/hour) would start on August 1, 2017. A growing list of community organizations and unions are backing this proposal as the correct initiative for Minneapolis. “Mayor Hodges and City Council have had two years to address Minneapolis’ worst in the nation racial and economic inequalities. We need to take our own initiative to get fair wages for local workers,” said Nekima Levy-Pounds, the President of the Minneapolis NAACP.

Volunteers are confident they’ll be able to gather 20,000 signatures or more before the July deadline. “Our first week shows how popular $15/hour is, but we need to remember that city council can pass our proposal as an ordinance at any time. We’d welcome that,” said Ginger Jentzen, Director for 15 Now. “But we need to keep organizing. City hall has refused to take action on Minneapolis’ dramatic racial and economic inequities. We’re taking an independent initiative to place the $15 decision back into the hands of those most affected: working people in Minneapolis.”

“CEO salaries are at an all-time high while wages for working people have stagnated. All workers need at least $15. No workers, whether they live in Minneapolis or Seattle, can put off paying the rent or putting food on the table. We don’t want to give big business any space to say it can’t be done in Minneapolis,” said Kip Hedges, 15 Now.

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Onto the Ballot, Into the Streets: California Workers Win a $15 minimum wage

California workers are the most recent to win a major victory in the movement for a $15 minimum wage. Only days after labor, community groups and low-wage workers qualified a statewide ballot initiative for $15/hour by 2021, Governor Jerry Brown counter-proposed raising the wage to $15 by 2023. If anyone tells you radical change isn’t possible, and to settle for incremental change instead,” writes US Uncut, “tell them to look at what the Fight for 15 movement has accomplished.”


In Seattle, Tacoma, Oregon and now California, low-wage workers and supporters used a ballot initiative to force $15 onto the agenda. In each case, big business and their allies saw the writing on the wall. Independent political action has been a key component to every concrete victory for $15 to this date, including strikes, mass demonstrations, and political challenges through ballot initiatives, to clearly expose the interests of big business against the interests of working class communities. Faced with a strong workers movement, politicians who previously ignored $15/hour came under pressure to side with workers’ demands.

In Minneapolis, 15 Now Minnesota is launching a ballot initiative for a $15/hour minimum wage. Despite thousands of workers and supporters organizing for $15 as a concrete step to deal with Minnesota’s worst in the nation racial and economic disparities, city officials haven’t acted to solve the crisis of poverty pay facing over 100,000 workers, mainly women and workers of color. Winning $15 in Minneapolis will take a mass movement of workers building pressure from below, ready to take $15 to the ballot and turn the passive 82% support for $15 in Minneapolis (shown by a recent poll) into active organizing to win.

Earlier this month, Oregon workers won a tremendous victory when Governor Kate Brown signed a statewide minimum wage increase, raising Portland workers to $15 by 2022. While Oregon workers and $15 supporters continue the fight against state government pre-emption on municipal legislation to deal with workers’ rights issues, the statewide increase would not have happened without a strong ground campaign fighting to get $15/hour on the Oregon ballot.

The movement for $15 should be very clear: even when politicians cut across worker organizing to reach consensus with business, these victories are a result of the strength of grassroots organizing by low-wage workers, labor unions and supporters.

Working class communities are winning by organizing independently. Our movement has shifted the national debate. Even Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who didn’t initially support the call for a $15 minimum wage, has shifted under pressure from worker organizing, to raise the demand for $15 as part of his call to build a “political revolution against the billionaire class”.

When status quo politicians don’t clearly stand on the side of working people, we’ve proven our movement can assert itself by mounting a political challenge, through a ballot initiative or by running our own candidates who will firmly represent the interests of working people.