Taking part in a national day of action on the four year anniversary of the last national minimum wage increase, workers and allies rally and deliver letters demanding fair wages
Minneapolis (July 24, 2013) — At a rally over the lunch hour, workers and allies from faith, labor and community groups came together at the Quarry Shopping Center in Minneapolis as part of a national day of action to call for a raise for low-wage workers living in poverty. The rally came on the fourth anniversary of the last increase in the federal minimum wage and on the day President Obama stated in a policy speech that “we need to raise the minimum wage because it’s lower right now than it was when Ronald Reagan took office.”
The event was led by workers who are part of Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL), a Twin Cities worker center. A delegation led by workers who are employed by sub-contractors to clean Target and Home Depot delivered letters informing the corporations about the wages and working conditions faced by janitors who work for contracted companies cleaning their stores. Workers are calling on their companies to give an immediate raise to lift workers and their families out of poverty and to give a boost to the local economy.
“I am a single mother with four children. $8 an hour is not enough to survive on – we have to share a trailer with other families to be able to afford rent,” said Maricela Flores, CTUL member and Carlson Building Maintenance employee who cleans a Target store. “As retail janitors we are surrounded by food and clothes every evening at work, yet we cannot afford to provide for our own families. I am organizing for fair wages.”
A report recently released by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that a two-parent, two-child family would need to make $73,526 a year for a decent yet modest living in Minneapolis. The current minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, or $15,080 per year. According to the National Employment Law Project 2012 report “Big Business, Corporate Profits, and the Minimum Wage,” the 50 largest low-wage employers, 75% are earning more revenue now than they were before the recession, while the Federal minimum wage remains stuck at 2009 levels.
After the rally and delegations at Target and Home Depot in Minneapolis, workers traveled to Eurest Services Cleaning in Edina, where they delivered a letter to their employer outlining their ongoing demands around fair wages and respect in the workplace. Cleaning workers went on a one-day Unfair Labor Practices (ULP) strike in February and a two-day ULP strike in June to ensure their right to organize without fear of retaliation, joining a nationwide movement of low-wage workers taking similar actions in Seattle, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, New York City and Milwaukee.
“I work for Eurest Services cleaning a Home Depot,” said Luciano Balbuena. “I have cleaned the same store for three years, and I still only earn $8.50 per hour. We work hard, and we deserve fair wages – that is why we are organizing!”
Wednesday’s event was part of a national day of action calling on corporations and politicians to raise wages for millions of the country’s lowest-paid workers. Thousands rallied in 40 cities across the country.