*Workers, supporters call on Democratic presidential candidates to take up calls in the Fight for $15!*
Minneapolis, Minn — On Friday, August 28th, outside of the Hilton in Minneapolis where Hilary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and other Democratic presidential hopefuls spoke at the convention for the Democratic National Committee, community members with 15Now Minnesota rallied to demand that the candidates and the Democratic National Committee officially endorse a $15 minimum wage across the country.
We know that $15/hour is on the agenda because of workers organizing across the country, and we know it will take a movement of thousands, building pressure from below, to win.
Minnesota has some of the worst racial economic disparities in the country, but the divides we face are a national problem. Structural racism has led to drastic racial income inequality. Far too many people, especially people of color, are earning less than a living wage. The presidential candidates must address our racial economic inequality crisis as a central part of their campaigns.
Via 15 Now Minnesota – Go to www.15NowMN.org for more info
In a groundbreaking victory for the movement for a $15 minimum wage, the Los Angeles City Council voted 13-1 today to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15/hour by 2020, with additional yearly increases tied to the cost of living beginning in 2022. Since the vote was not unanimous, a final vote must be taken on June 10, but city councilors and labor activists are confident the ordinance will pass. Los Angeles’ wage hike comes after successful grassroots campaigns in Seattle and San Francisco, but L.A. will be the largest U.S. city to enact a $15 minimum wage, and will pave the way for other major metros, such as New York City, to follow suit.
The hugely popular demand for $15/hour is taking off across the country. On April 15th, the biggest demonstrations for $15 in the movement to date brought thousands into the streets nationwide. In Minneapolis, just two days after over 1,000 low-wage workers and supporters marched for $15/hour, the City Council voted to establish a workgroup to “develop a recommendation for a study of the effects of establishing a minimum wage regionally and locally.” The workgroup will also develop policy proposals to address workers’ rights issues including paid sick and safe time, fair scheduling, and curbing wage theft.
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges does not support a $15 minimum wage locally, saying it’s best to raise wages on a regional level. But when the Los Angeles City Council took the lead, passing a preliminary vote for $15/hour last week, the California Senate voted on June 1 to raise wages across the state to $13/hour by 2017.
In a clear response to grassroots pressure, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay came out in support of a bill to raise his city’s minimum wage to $15 by 2020 as well. It is expected to be filed at the city’s board of aldermen on June 5. If passed, St. Louis would become the first midwestern city to implement a $15 minimum wage.
The wide-reaching effects of local movements for a living wage and the key role unions have played in these successes are not to be underestimated, explained 15 Now MN Organizer Ginger Jentzen. “These victories prove that the strategy for local governments taking the first step works, and the ripple effect across the country from winning $15 in Seattle and San Francisco. These victories are raising workers’ confidence in organizing, seeing that it’s possible to win when they build pressure from below. ”
Via 15 Now MN – Go to www.15NowMN.org for more updates
On Monday May 18th, the Metropolitan Airport Commission (MAC) voted on a $1 wage increase for around 3,000 low-wage workers at the Minneapolis- St. Paul Airport. The MAC will return to the June meeting to vote on the implementation plan of the increase, slated to begin in August at the same time as Minnesota’s statewide minimum wage increase. This small victory sets an important precedent as the first local government body in Minnesota to raise wages, opening the door to Minneapolis and beyond.
Airport workers, 15 Now, the Service Employees International Union, Teamsters and other unions packed the meeting to demand the MAC return in June with a proposal for $15/hour. MSP – Airport workers have organized demonstrations, rallies, and a broad community campaign for $15/hour over the last 10 months, which has been endorsed by Representative Keith Ellison and the Minnesota AFL-CIO.
Abera Siyoum, a low-wage Air Serv worker, addressed the MAC with hundreds of union cards signed by his co-workers who are organizing for representation with the Service Employees International Union Local 26. “This $1 increase will not help my co-workers get off welfare. I’m tired of poverty pay and this increase will not help me spend more time with my family and pay my bills,” Siyoum said.
After low-wage workers addressed the MAC, in a unified message that a $1 wage increase is not enough, MAC Chairman Dan Boivin acknowledged, “This proposal will not bring anyone out of poverty[…] But I don’t support, at this time, going any higher.”
Over the last 15 years, wages at the airport have fallen 45% as airlines outsource work to subcontractors who relentlessly drive down wages in an effort to increase profits. Rising labor unrest against this is the main reason that, in February, Governor Dayton appointed two rank and file airport workers to the MAC, including low-wage Air Serv worker Ibrahim Mohamed. At Mohamed’s inauguration ceremony, Dayton said, “The fact that he was making $12.50 an hour a few years ago, according to reports, and they reduced that to minimum wage is just disgraceful.” The current proposal for $10/hour would not even raise workers like Mohamed back to their previous salaries.
Advocates have also pointed out how poverty wages at MSP Airport disproportionately affect the East African community, which reinforces Minneapolis’ record as one of the most racially unequal cities in the country. A recent report by the Center for Popular Democracy, Waiting for Take-off, shows how a $15/hour minimum wage at MSP Airport would put $25 million into the East African community annually, adding nearly $10 million in tax revenue for the local economy.
MSP Airport is one of the most profitable airports in the country. Delta Airlines boasts that 25 to 30% of its total profits come from MSP Airport, partially because of widespread use of low-wage subcontractors. “Out of his own salary, Delta CEO Richard Anderson could pay 460 workers $15/hour,” said Kip Hedges, a former Delta baggage handler who was fired in December for supporting $15/hour.
The proposal passed with an amendment to study the impact of a quality service wage, which could raise wages for these same workers to around $15/hour. A MAC vote on the quality service wage will require a mobilization of workers organizing for $15/hour increasing pressure on the MAC leading up to the June vote.
In March Governor Dayton acknowledged the MAC had “failed airport workers.” “We ask Governor Dayton to continue support for MSP workers by directing the MAC to pass the quality service wage, raising these workers to $15/hr,” Hedges continued. “Raising these low-wage workers up to $15 would be a stepping stone for future union organizing and strengthen the confidence of all workers at MSP to fight for $15/hour and union rights. We stand united with SEIU, Teamsters, the IAM, the MN-AFL and airport workers behind the demand for $15/hour.”
“The MAC is discussing wage increases because of the pressure airport workers have escalated around the demand for $15. The MAC has a clear choice. Either it takes action to have a positive effect on the lives of thousands of MSP workers by passing $15/hour, or it caves to the corporate trade groups like Airlines for America, allowing Delta and other companies to continue outsourcing Minneapolis workers to poverty wage employers,” said 15 Now MN organizer Ginger Jentzen.
Could Oregon Be the First State to Win 15?
Justin Norton-Kertson, 15 Now PDX
The movement for a $15 minimum wage in Oregon has gained massive momentum during 2015, with 16 legislative sponsors, hoards of media attention, and a rally drawing hundreds from all over the state. By the time the legislative session began in February, Oregon had become the first state in the country to seriously consider a statewide $15 minimum wage.
With over 100 labor unions, community groups, faith organizations, and small businesses endorsing $15 for Oregon, and with poll numbers showing majority support, it seems the movement to make Oregon the fist state to win $15 is an unstoppable force. When legislative committee hearings were held on raising Oregon’s minimum wage, hundreds of people from around the state again flooded the Capitol, filling the hearing room and three overflow rooms. They kept the committees in session for four hours of testimony in favor of $15 from low-wage workers, small business owners, and other allies.
Despite overwhelming support, news out of the capitol is that a minimum wage bill won’t pass. Using the typical tactic of hiding corporate interests behind the facade of concern for small business, some legislative leaders reason that, because they are trying to pass paid sick days, small businesses can’t handle a minimum wage raise, too.
As a result of what seems to be a clear unwillingness to listen to the will of working Oregonians, on April 17 a coalition of 15 Now, PCUN (Oregon’s farmworkers’ union), and Rural Organizing Project filed a ballot initiative for a statewide $15 minimum wage. If the state legislature fails to act, we’ll take $15 to a vote of the people and make Oregon the first state to win $15!
87% of Philadelphia Supports $15
Kate Goodman and Justin Harrison
The numbers are in: a recent survey commissioned by AFSCME (the union representing city workers) showed that 87% of Philadelphia voters support increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour (“Crafting an Economic Agenda for Philadelphia’s Next Mayor,” 04/21/2015). This shows concretely what we have been arguing to city and state elected officials: there is overwhelming support for significantly higher wages. 1 in 3 people in Philly lives in poverty, and we are the poorest large city in the U.S. There is nationwide momentum for winning campaigns to increase the minimum wage. Similar major cities like Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, have already implemented or are exploring large wage hikes. New York Governor Cuomo is exploring legal options that allow him to use special powers to raise wages for fast-food workers in NewYork State.
In Philadelphia, like in many cities across the country, local efforts to raise the minimum wage are blocked by a statewide preemption. 15 Now Philadelphia has taken the position that these laws are immoral and unjust. Our city is in crisis and, in times of crisis, our elected officials have the duty to use their political authority to enact emergency legislation to ensure the health and safety of their constituents. Slavery and segregation were firmly encoded in the law before advocates organized to demand bold action. Historically, courts have responded to social movements. Recently, the gay rights movement has pushed courts to reverse dozens of decisions denying same-sex couples to marry.
15 Now Philadelphia is working with allies, including SEIU 32BJ, Fight for $15, and POWER, to keep the minimum wage issue on the political agenda. On May 14, City Councilman Johnson introduced legislation into City Council to put a question on the November ballot calling for a $15 an hour minimum wage. At the state level, Senator Daylin Leach introduced a bill that would abolish the tipped minimum wage, raise the statewide minimum wage to $15 an hour, and and link it to inflation. On the ground, we continue our campus and neighborhood campaigns to deepen grassroots support. We are calling on the major public employers of the city to pay a $15 an hour minimum, and we are ready to take the fight to the streets, classrooms, and workplaces of Philadephia.
Airport Workers Demand $15 in Minneapolis
It was a strange victory. After a raucus three-hour meeting, an angry silence filled the room as the Metropolitan Airport Commission voted to set wages for 3,000 low-wage workers at Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport to at least $1 above the state minimum. Just one year before, a 10% raise for minimum wage workers would have been greeted as a big victory. But since 15 Now launched the minimum wage fight at MSP ten months ago, and especially since SEIU made the call for $15 the main slogan of their AirServ organizing drive last November, workers’ expectations have risen. Commissioners defending the small raise were booed.
“A $1 raise is not enough. We need a union. We need $15,” said Abdi Ali, a leader in the AirServ union drive and in 15 Now Minnesota. Meeting afterwards, workers and supporters agreed to continue the fight for $15 at MSP.
Urgent Solidarity Needed!
Let Brinks know we have Darletta’s back! Show your solidarity by:
Flood Brinks’ phone lines today! Demand they give Darletta her job back.
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All charges against Councilmember Sawant, Reverend John Helmiere, and Alaska Airlines baggage handler Socrates Bravo were thrown out today as the judge heard the City of Seatac’s case and found it uncompelling.
On April 15, over 60,000 union members, students and low wage workers in 230 cities across the country walked out of their work places and classrooms to march, rally and occupy for a $15/hour minimum wage and the right to a union. SEIU played a key role in providing organizing resources, organizers and mobilizing it’s membership to come out for the day of action. With its focus on building a broader campaign, 15 Now also played a critical role in mobilizing, organizing and supporting the strikes and direct actions.
Across the country 15 Now chapters are distributing this leaflet outlining our strategy to win a $15/hour minimum wage for millions of workers.
On April 6, students at Northeastern University made history by winning a student referendum vote to implement the nation’s first campus-wide $15/hr minimum wage. The initiative passed with 76.4% of the vote.
Not only did these students break ground nationally by becoming the first campus to demand $15, they broke ground at Northeastern by smashing all previous election records. While the referendum does not immediately raise wages for campus workers, it shows a clear mandate to address the issue of income inequality on campus and forces the Administration to act.
With a coalition of 9 progressive student groups on campus, 15 Now Northeastern is poised to put their university on the front lines of the fight for wage equality nationwide. Northeastern students are speaking out and fighting back against wage inequality on their campus.
“There’s an unusual buzz on campus,” says Elan Axelbank, a Northeastern student and one of the main organizers of the campaign. “You’d be walking around campus during voting week and just hear random groups of people talking about 15, it was awesome.”
The president of Northeastern, Joseph Aoun, is the second highest paid university president in the country, earning over $3.12 million in 2011. In the face of many campus workers earning poverty wages, this is unacceptable. With the support of the student body, and along side campus workers, 15 Now Northeastern will be demanding public negotiations with the school’s administration. This will be a difficult and heated process, considering the antagonistic history of Northeastern’s administration towards progressive campaigns on campus. Nonetheless, Northeastern students are ready to take on their administration and demand $15 for all campus workers!
We need to build on this victory by spreading 15 Now to every campus, city and neighborhood in the country. The movement for a living wage is growing and winning more and more victories every week. On April 15th, workers, students, and community members will be marching in over 200 cities nationwide to demand $15/hr for all workers.