“Day of Disruption” For Higher Minimum Wage Sweeps Twin Cities

Photo Credit: Jon Collins, MPR News

Throughout the Twin Cities today, workers fighting for a higher minimum wage are staging rallies and protests on what has been designated a “Day of Resistance for $15 and Union Rights” put on locally by the group Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (Center of United Workers in Struggle) or CTUL.

According to an article by Kristoffer Tigue of MinnPost, CTUL organizes mostly working class Latinos in Minnesota. Most recently the group worked with Neighborhoods Organizing For Change (NOC), a George Soros funded organization. They collected and delivered 17,000 verified signatures to city hall in the failed attempt to get a $15 minimum wage referendum on the November ballot.  In August 2016, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued an order stating that the Minneapolis City Council was legally justified in keeping the minimum wage vote off the ballot because minimum wage is an ordinance and the Minneapolis charter does not allow voters to place ordinances on the ballot by petitions.

On Tuesday at the Eden Prairie Mall, custodial workers wore Santa Claus hats, singing Christmas carols with the lyrics changed to support workers rights. The group marched through the mall to the entrance of Kohl’s Department Store asking store managers to consider raising the minimum wage to $15.

Veronica Mendez Moore of CTUL told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that Kohl’s locked the protesters out.

The rally in Eden Prairie was the second of several events in the Twin Cities scheduled for today in which fast-food employees, janitors and other low-wage workers continued their push for a $15 an hour wages.

Minneapolis police estimate that about 135 people gathered outside of a McDonald’s restaurant early Tuesday morning in South Minneapolis at 24th Street and Nicollet Avenue S., waving signs, chanting and blocking traffic by sitting in the intersections. MPR News reported that 21 protesters who were blocking the roadway chose to get arrested, but were ticketed and released.

Minnesota State Rep. Frank Hornstein (DFL-61A) told MPR News that results of the recent national elections made it all the more important for cities and states to step up on issues like a higher minimum wage.

“We have to build a strong movement, a strong effort to say that just because of a national election, these issues don’t go away,” Hornstein said. “In fact, we have to be even more determined and more clear about what our vision is.”

MPR News reports that there will be another rally/protest on Tuesday afternoon at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, where 600 baggage handlers and cart drivers recently unionized.  The last protest, which is supposed to be the largest of the evening, is scheduled to take place at 4:30 p.m., with a march through the University of Minnesota’s Minneapolis campus.  It will be followed by a rally at 6 p.m. at the McDonald’s restaurant at 4th Street and 15th Avenue SE in Dinkytown.

Organizers are calling the rallies and protests across the country a “day of disruption” to mark the fourth anniversary of a New York City strike by fast food workers that began the movement for a $15 minimum wage across the country.

Donna Azarian