Tag Archives: #PoliticalRevolution

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15 Now MN: Sick Days Victory Shows Minneapolis Can End Poverty Wages

After a two year movement of rallies, strikes and actions, low-wage workers in Minneapolis won the first Earned Sick and Safe Time (ESST) policy in the Midwest. By passing ESST, City Hall unanimously agreed to take responsibility for workplace conditions, as a result of increasing pressure from escalating demonstrations by low-wage workers and a powerful coalition. This further shows City Council can pass our campaign’s proposal for $15/hour as an ordinance at any time.

Sick time was one issue in a suite of workers’ rights demands, including $15, that City Hall hesitated against taking action on in the fall. In response, workers organized and forced the city to take action, with escalating demonstrations demanding sick days, a $15 minimum wage, and an end to wage theft, including one rally of hundreds that brought downtown traffic to a halt back in February.

Pro-business policies have left Minneapolis with some of the worst in the nation racial equity gaps, despite also also having the highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the country. “City Hall felt urgency when big business lobbied for the Vikings Stadium,” said Ginger Jentzen, Executive Director of 15 Now Minnesota. “City Hall should feel the same urgency to pass $15 as they did to strike a deal for the Wilf brothers.”

Mayor Hodges has said she does not support raising wages at a city level but stood with workers on sick time, and City Attorney Susan Segal has raised questions of bringing $15/hour as a charter amendment. “Passing sick time shows it’s legal to put a $15 minimum wage to voters in Minneapolis, and we aim to get the signatures to show that 20% of our win number in the fall supports putting the $15 decision back into the hands of Minneapolis workers,” said Ginger Jentzen.

Minneapolis taking the initiative on paid sick days has spurred other cities to follow suit. St. Paul and Duluth are now considering their own paid sick time policies. Demonstrations in Minneapolis have raised workers’ confidence in cities across our region.

82% of Minneapolis voters support a phased in $15/hour minimum wage. This widespread support can be seen in the fact that In just five weeks, over 10,000 people have signed the ballot initiative for a $15/hour minimum wage. The $15 for Mpls campaign is working to verify signatures collected to ensure it meets the threshold of 7,000 to qualify. Over 400 individual donors have contributed a median donation of $6 — that’s how much more, per hour, minimum wage workers will earn if we win $15/hour

But it took a movement and powerful organization of working people in Minneapolis to win safe and sick time. By linking pro-worker policies and increased membership in unions to win $15, we’re building a method to reverse the economic devastation working people have faced under decades of waiting for big business to voluntarily enact policies which benefit workers. Pascual Tapia, CTUL member and retail janitor said, “I am happy to see that my work helped open the space to win paid sick days in Minneapolis.”

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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.