71,000 low wage workers who work in Minneapolis will get raises starting in 2018. The Minneapolis City Council passed a municipal minimum wage ordinance on Friday, June 30 that will require businesses to phase in $15/hour over 5 to 7 years, depending on the size of the employer. A disproportionate number of these workers are people of color and single mothers.
The win is a culmination of years of grassroots organizing, and UFCW Local 653 is proud to lift up workers for a better life.
UFCW Local 653 joined the Raise Retail Campaign that ran in 2014 through 2016 along with $15Now, CTUL, NOC, CPD, and Working America, and the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, among others to gauge and raise awareness of the $15 an hour movement, fair scheduling and sick and safe time in Minneapolis. Organizations worked together to blitz big and small retail stores in the Twin Cities surveying workers for support of these ideas. Local 653 sent out S.P.U.R.s (Special Project Union Representatives) and staff to these stores to help survey workers.
The results painted a clear picture that there was a lot of support for $15. After a ballot initiative for $15 an hour in Minneapolis failed in a MN Supreme Court ruling last August, the $15 for Minneapolis coalition pushed for an ordinance.
Through months of working in coalition with labor and progressive organizations, UFCW Local 653 helped to turn out members and amplify communications and support for $15 an hour.
On June 22, UFCW Local 653 members testified in support of the $15 an hour ordinance during a Minneapolis City Council public hearing. Members Sondra Williams, Jeff Livingston, and Courtney Huber were there.
In a packed room in Minneapolis City Hall, Sondra Williams said, “I work part-time in the deli department, I have two part time jobs. I’m a single mom struggling to raise 3 beautiful children. Imagine not seeing your kids because you work two jobs. I’m doing the best I can. $15 would not only help me and my family out, but it would help others who are struggling as well.”
Jeff Livingston said, “After 15 or 16 years in the screen printing industry before this current job, I realized that low wages are part of a systemic problem. Where the rich get richer, and working people like me have to work harder and harder for scraps. Although the ordinance sees $15 fully realized in 2025, I see $15 an hour as a baseline of what minimum wage should be today.”
Courtney Huber testified, “I make $14.25 an hour, and have a couple of other part time jobs, because, well, you gotta do what you gotta do to pay the bills. It’d be nice not to struggle as much.”
As the momentum of the $15 an hour campaign built, it helped UFCW Local 653 to organize Eastside, Linden Hills and now Seward Community Food Coop in Minneapolis. Workers want a better life through higher wages, workplace rights and collective bargaining agreements. When workers see and experience these momentous wins that lift up union and non-union workers alike, it builds confidence in retail industry workers.
Looking forward, workers can use the win in Minneapolis to demand $15 at UFCW Local 653 coop bargaining and in larger retail contracts down the road.