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Minneapolis City Council adopts historic local wage theft ordinance

From the Minneapols Labor Review, August 23, 2019

By Steve Share, Minneapolis Labor Review editor

MINNEAPOLIS — Implementing another plank of a “Working Families Agenda” proposed in 2015, the Minneapolis City Council voted 12-0 August 8 to adopt a local “Wage Theft Prevention Ordinance.”

A broad coalition of labor unions, worker centers and community groups supported the measure.

Coming just months after the Minnesota state legislature enacted strong legislation to combat wage theft, advocates said the city’s action would empower the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department to become a strong partner in helping to enforce the state legislation.

“Now we have the tools to hold the bad actors accountable and support workers,” said Ward 4 City Council Member Philipe Cunningham, one of the co-authors of the local measure, following the historic vote. “We have the power of the Civil Rights Department to do the enforcement.”

“This isn’t about going after employers,” said Dan McConnell, business manager of the Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council. “This is about employers playing by the rules.”

If not for passing a local wage theft ordinance, “we would have been referring people to the state,” commented Ward 3 City Council Member Steve Fletcher, also a co-author of the ordinance.

Members of CTUL — the Center for Workers United in Struggle — also celebrated the vote on the ordinance.

“For years, we’ve been fighting against wage theft,” said CTUL member Juana Cinto. “With this victory today, we have the resources necessary… to stop wage theft.”

CTUL activist Henry Scott, who moved to the Twin Cities from Chicago in 1999, commented: “I had to come here to learn that the system actually worked for the people.”

“It was CTUL telling me to be a voice, don’t stand in the background,” Scott said.

The campaign to pass the wage theft ordinance “has been an amazing example of when you build inside/outside power,” Council Member Cunningham said. “This is truly a model for how the city should be operating.” He credited workers “for continuously showing up, telling your stories so powerfully.”

Related story
> Workers’ stories spoke to need for local wage theft law
(Minneapolis Labor Review, 8-23-19)



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