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Commentary
Passing $15 per hour wage in Minneapolis shows we win

From the Minneapolis Labor Review, July 28, 2017

By Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou, President,
Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation

While leaders across this state and country are fighting over terrible partisan politics of fear, here in Minneapolis we are coming together to ensure a better community for all people.

After years of worker-led grassroots organizing, the Minneapolis City Council June 30 passed a $15 per hour municipal minimum wage that leaves no worker behind.

This is a significant victory for our community, for workers, and for labor. It proves that workers can come together and control their destinies. It shows that we can begin to re imagine the future of work and we can win in this new economy. This grassroots organizing victory drives home that politics as usual is not the only way. 

The $15 per hour minimum wage win is much more than just an ordinance. More important than city halls and politicians is democracy in the workplace.

The organizing that occurred as a lead-up to passing the ordinance has strengthened unions and planted organizing seeds all across our city.

Unions used this fight to connect with and mobilize their members, particularly unions who are in public service, such as teachers, healthcare workers and nurses.

They know first-hand the significance of a $15 per hour wage for their students, for their students’ families, and for their patients who are so deeply struggling.

Unions also have used the campaign to kick-off organizing drives in workplaces, particularly in hospitality, retail and service industries.

UFCW Local 653 even organized every unorganized grocery co-op in the city of Minneapolis in conjunction with this campaign.

The organizing that occured as a lead-up to passing the $15 minimum wage ordinance has strengthened unions and planted organizing seeds all across our city.

Now that the ordinance has passed, much work is still to be done to educate workers, protect our wins and stop rampant wage theft.

Next year, in addition, we also likely will need to wage a campaign against the Republican-led legislature, which wants to take these raises away from workers.

And of course, the campaign for a $15 minimum wage policy doesn’t stop just in Minneapolis. Workers all across the MRLF’s seven-county region and across this nation need more income.

Many people could argue that we are at a painful moment in our history.

Workers are frustrated by the lack of economic opportunities and advancement.
National forces are attempting to divide our communities.

The ever-exasperating crisis in our neighborhoods about safety, fear and the very dignity of our neighbors of color and immigrants is pouring into our workplaces and headlining dinner table conversations.

These fights for justice are all connected, whether in the workplace or in the streets.

For labor, being in powerful relationships with the community is how we win.
It is the moral obligation of our unions to take on these fights and change the course of history.

The fight for $15 is just one small step on the journey for a more just community.
I look forward to leading with all of you in this transformative moment.

Contact MRLF president Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou at 612-321-5670 or chelsie@minneapolisunions.org.

 



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