NELP Honors Coalition That Brought $15 to Minneapolis, Midwest

by Erin Hawkins

In June 2017, Minneapolis became the first city in the Midwest to adopt a $15 minimum wage—a landmark victory for both the city and the broader “Fight for $15” movement.

The wage increase will be phased in gradually, delivering raises to 23 percent of the Minneapolis workforce, or approximately 71,000 workers. The cost of living in Minneapolis is among the highest in the state, whose minimum wage is currently $9.50 for most employers. According to the Economic Policy Institute’s Family Budget Calculator, a single worker with no children working full-time needed $13.10 per hour in 2014 to make ends meet in the Minneapolis metro area. A single worker with a child needed about $26 per hour in 2014 to afford the basics.

The Minneapolis City Council’s unanimous approval of $15 is testament to the strength of the grassroots movement behind the victory, led by a coalition of organizations empowering workers in the Twin Cities. For years, this movement has been a constant presence both in city council meetings and on the streets.

In September 2014, Minneapolis fast food workers walked out on strike, demanding $15 and a union. Over the next three years, a strong coalition of workers and community organizations engaged the broader Twin Cities community and its leaders in a conversation about the needs of low-wage workers, many of whom are women and people of color. The coalition conducted multiple strikes and marches fighting for a fair wage, won two of the nation’s strongest “Earned Sick and Safe Time” policies in Minneapolis and St. Paul, and ultimately made the Twin Cities national leaders in the fight for higher wages and a better life for workers.

NELP applauds the Minneapolis $15 Minimum Wage Campaign, including Centro de Trabajaores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL), $15 Now, and the visionary workers who have fought for greater rights and opportunities for low-wage workers. The impact of this victory stretches well beyond Minnesota, giving new strength and momentum to the Fight for $15 movement nationwide.

Join NELP on November 29 in Washington, DC, to celebrate the victory of the Minneapolis $15 Minimum Wage Campaign and our other honorees who have risen to meet this powerful moment.


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