Blog Posts

Minnesotans for a Fair Economy Responds to Attack by La Belle Vie’s McKee

For Immediate Release: October 10, 2015 

Minnesotans for a Fair Economy Responds to Attack by La Belle Vie’s McKee

Owner blames hourly workers, #MplsWorks campaign for restaurant failure despite history of financial mismanagement

Minneapolis, MN – Minnesotans for a Fair Economy released the following statement in response to La Belle Vie owner Tim McKee’s attack on the Minneapolis Works campaign, hourly workers and the Working Families municipal ordinance still in discussion via the public commentary phase:

“When Tim McKee announced he will be shuttering La Belle Vie at the end of October, he laid much of the blame on the Minneapolis Works campaign, new minimum wage laws, and hourly workers who have been leading the charge for closing economic and racial disparities in Minneapolis through scheduling reforms, paid sick time, and wage increases. He also insinuated that an ordinance not even in effect and still being debated vigorously across the city, the Working Families ordinance, was complicit. This is nonsense and a low-road attack on the working families of Minneapolis.

“La Belle Vie charges two-hundred and twenty dollars for an individual tasting menu with wine. For many of the workers struggling to get by in Minneapolis, that is a month of groceries for an entire family.  Minneapolis Works seeks to rebalance an economy that lets a few indulge in fine dining while leaving many Minneapolis residents – especially families of color, women and single parents – out in the cold.

“In 2010, McKee made headlines in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune when he and his business partner were forced to relinquish their equity stake in Barrio Tequila after they were discovered siphoning money from another restaurant into La Belle Vie (Twin Cities restaurateur cooking the books?). McKee’s management contract with Barrio was said to be terminated due to ‘mismanagement and gross negligence.’ That same negligence was evident at La Belle Vie itself. La Belle Vie was sued by one of its vendors, and was known to make regular appearances on the Minnesota Department of Revenue’s liquor, wine and beer sales tax delinquencies roster. The simple truth is La Belle Vie is not closing due to the Working Families ordinance, the Minneapolis Works campaign nor modest wage increases for its hourly employees. It is closing for financial reasons and a business model that did not work.

“McKee seeks sympathy for upscale, elite restaurateurs, but the truth is that restaurants in Minneapolis overall are experiencing unprecedented success (Boom town: Record number of restaurants open in 2014). A better line of discussion might be ‘why is La Belle Vie not part of this trend?’

“If McKee is looking for someone to blame for La Belle Vie’s closure, he should look to his own business model and history of financial mismanagement rather than lashing out at hard-working hourly employees who support the Minneapolis Works campaign, are currently engaged in a robust discussion of how Minneapolis can close some of the worst disparities in the country by increasing workplace standards, and who deserve more dignity in the workplace. McKee owes the workers and residents of Minneapolis an apology. Not the least of which are his forty employees who will be out of a job as of October 24, many if not most who found out about La Belle Vie’s closing through the news media.”

# # #

Minnesotans for a Fair Economy

Minnesotans for a Fair Economy is a coalition of labor, community and faith organizations that are fighting for an economy that works for all of us.

Leave a comment

Workers, Community Activists Comment on Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel’s Resignation

Hopeful that new leadership will be responsive to the needs of the workers and community

ST. PAUL (May 5, 2014): With news today of Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel’s resignation, community activists and workers from Minnesota are hopeful that the new leadership  will act swiftly in critical ways that would improve not only Minnesota’s economy, but the daily lives of thousands of workers in our state – especially lower-wage workers of color.

Over the past ten years, there have been at least five federal multi-million dollar class action lawsuits alleging unpaid wages in the contracted cleaning of Target stores across the country. In 2013 Diversified Maintenance System’s, Target’s largest janitorial contractor that cleans over 600 Target stores around the country, paid $675,000 to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by workers who clean Target stores in Minnesota alleging unpaid overtime pay. In March 2014, employees of Eurest Services who supervised the cleaning of Target and other stores in Minneapolis – St. Paul filed a new lawsuit alleging up to 35 hours per week of unpaid wages. Last year, retail janitors affiliated with Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL) led three strikes calling for fair wages and the right to organize without fear of retaliation.

Enrique Barcenas, employee of Prestige Maintenance USA who cleans a Target store in the Minneapolis – St. Paul metro area and CTUL member stated:

“As Mr. Steinhafel is offered up to $26 million just to leave his job, we continue to work every evening cleaning Target stores trying to survive on sub-poverty wages. We are ready to take action this summer to make sure cleaning companies respect our right to fair wages. We hope the new interim president and chief executive officer, John Mulligan, will be more willing to listen to our concerns as we struggle to get out of poverty,”

At last year’s Target shareholders’ meeting, Steinhafel committed that members of his leadership team would engage in an ongoing dialogue with members of the Brooklyn Park community to discuss the community’s concerns that the company had not held up its agreement to community benefits and jobs in response to the large public subsidies it received from Brooklyn Park tax payers.  Since that time, Target leaders have met with ISAIAH and Northwest Community Collaborative leaders to discuss these concerns and explore opportunities through which the company could partner with the organization to understand the diverse community’s growing needs for jobs, educational, health, and economic development opportunities.

ISAIAH NW Metro Chairperson, Joy Marsh Stephens, states:

“We are encouraged by the progress we’ve made with Target so far and want to see them continue their commitment to an ongoing partnership us. The community’s needs haven’t changed. We’re committed to continuing dialog and hope that Target remains committed to us.”

The original deal Target struck with the City of Brooklyn Park included amenities and new jobs that Target later re-negotiated when the economic recession hit. Target committed to construct three new buildings and create 1,500 jobs in exchange for an upfront $2.4 million subsidy and potential tax abatements up to $20. Target finished one building and created less than 500 jobs and then halted any new activity. In 2008, Target said it would not fulfill the other parts of the contract due to changes in the economy and better opportunities to expand in India. In 2011 the city entered into a revised contract to give Target a new $2 million upfront subsidy to construct an office building and resume its creation of the remaining 1,000 jobs it had committed to. However, instead of creating jobs, Target will be transferring existing jobs from downtown Minneapolis.

“Now that times are difficult for Target, we want to make sure that they don’t go back on their word the way they did last time,” said Denise Butler of Northwest Community Collaborative.


Andy Holmaas, Minnesotans for a Fair Economy: 612-968-3490,

Merle Payne, CTUL: 612-859-5750,



Minnesotans for a Fair Economy

Working to build a Minnesota where there is opportunity for everyone to work hard and get ahead.



Leave a comment

Homeowners and Community Activists Travel to San Antonio, TX to Demand Accountability from Wells Fargo

Homeowners and Community Activists Travel to San Antonio, TX to Demand Accountability from Wells Fargo

Advocates will present shareholder resolution on mortgage servicing abuses at Wells Fargo shareholder meeting

ST. PAUL (April 29, 2014): For the second year in a row, Wells Fargo Bank moved its annual shareholder meeting outside of its hometown of San Francisco, California in a bid to avoid attention over its foreclosure, mortgage servicing and other predatory practices. Homeowners and community activists from Minnesota and across the country followed the bank to San Antonio, Texas to demand Wells Fargo stop abusive mortgage servicing, foreclosure, and other harmful practices.

Advocates will present a shareholder referendum at the shareholder meeting requiring Wells to conduct an independent review of the bank’s internal controls to ensure that its mortgage and foreclosure practices are not violating fair housing and fair lending laws. The referendum gained 21% of shareholder votes in 2013.

Emory Carter, an ISAIAH leader from Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in South Minneapolis, sends his message to San Antonio of his situation being steered into a high-interest rate refinancing of his mortgage when he qualified for a much better rate.

“I send my message to San Antonio because, unfortunately, major banks, including Wells Fargo, have a long history of denying credit to communities of color.  As the 20th Century became the 21st, subprime loans were aggressively targeted to communities of color.  And as we all know, these loans led to the foreclosure crisis and the subsequent drop in home values.  Because of these lending practices, communities of color were disproportionately affected.” Carter continued, “As a person of faith, I believe in the inherent dignity of all God’s children; and that we are called to create healthy and vibrant communities that allow all people to thrive. We are here to call on Wells Fargo to take proactive steps to make right their action in the communities that were harmed by these practices – stripped of their wealth and now denied credit.  We need transformative solutions to break this cycle of financial predation and starvation.”

Community organizations are also protesting the bank facilitating investments in private prison and immigrant detention centers through its mutual funds, and the bank up-selling costly bank products to new and existing customers, a practice recently exposed in an LA Times investigation.  Advocates are also calling on the bank to provide affordable repayment plans for their customers who have direct deposit advance loans (similar to payday loans) and to stop financing payday and other high-cost, predatory lenders.

Paulina Gonzalez, Executive Director of the California Reinvestment Coalition, explained the need for the fair lending audit in the shareholder referendum: “Housing counselors across California who help homeowners avoid foreclosure cited Wells Fargo as the hardest servicer to work with for a second year in a row. Communities of color are especially impacted by bad loan servicing, as documented by a new GAO report, which found differences in outcomes relating to trial modifications, cancelations and re-default rates for Limited English Proficient and African American borrowers.”

Peter Skillern, Executive Director of Reinvestment Partners, based in Durham, North Carolina added: “Reinvestment Partners’ experience as a housing counseling agency is the basis for our demand of Wells Fargo to improve its mortgage services.  Single point of contacts often do not return phone calls and we have not had a single client who has had principle reduction in a loan modification.  We support an independent audit of Wells Fargo’s mortgage servicing operations.”

Josh Zinner, co-director of New Economy Project, based in New York City, explained: “Wells Fargo was the most profitable U.S. bank in 2013, and has received hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer bailouts and tax subsidies. Meanwhile, the bank’s abusive mortgage servicing practices continue to cause harm to families and communities across the country, particularly in communities of color.  Wells Fargo must be held accountable.”


Josh Zinner, New Economy Project: 718-290-6389

Peter Skillern, Reinvestment Partners: 919-667-4201

Laquita Garcia, Texas Organizing Project: 972-342-5116

Kevin Whelan, Home Defenders League: 612–414-9731

(Kevin can speak to the 20 similar events happening around the country)



Minnesotans for a Fair Economy

Working to build a Minnesota where there is opportunity for everyone to work hard and get ahead.


Leave a comment

Minnesota Delegation Travels to Kansas City for U.S. Bank Shareholder’s Meeting

Concerns include the bank’s backing out of a public commitment to Minnesota’s Somali community and ongoing racial redlining practices

ST. PAUL (April 15, 2014) — A delegation of Minnesotans traveled to Kansas City this morning to attend U.S. Bank’s annual shareholder’s meeting. The group includes representatives from Minnesota’s Somali community and clergy concerned about discriminatory lending practices uncovered by a recent report released last week by the University of Minnesota Law School.

Last week, U.S. Bank officials informed representatives of Minneapolis-based Dahabshiil, a Money Service Business (MSB) that serves the Somali community, that it would not conduct remittances to Somalia. The bank’s decision reverses a public commitment made one year ago at its shareholder’s meeting in Boise, Idaho.

Community leaders and members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation applauded the bank’s decision as an important step in an ongoing, 28-month-long humanitarian crisis. At the time, U.S. Bank officials also publicly shared in the excitement. “Over the past year, we’ve worked very closely with remitters seeking to send money to Somalia,” Nicole Garrison-Sprenger, a U.S. Bancorp spokeswoman, said in an email to reporters in April of 2013. “We are pleased that we may have recently found a solution with one remitter in Minneapolis,” she continued.

In the year since, representatives from Dahabshiil have invested significant resources in meeting and exceeding compliance demands placed by the bank, acting in good faith. The move by U.S. Bank to back out of the agreement follows more than two years of efforts by Somali Minnesotans to restore the critical lifeline to their families, many of whom depend on the funds to meet the basic necessities of everyday life. Community leaders have met with U.S. Bank officials many times since the last Minnesota bank ceased conducting the transactions. Such a meeting took place just two weeks ago.

“On behalf of our community, I am very disappointed by this decision to back out of our agreement,” said Mohamed Nor of Dahabshiil. “An urgent need remains and it is clear that U.S. Bank has no desire to be a partner in alleviating the suffering of our people.”

Minnesotans traveling to Kansas City will also bring concerns revealed in a report released last week by the University of Minnesota Law School showing that communities of color continue to be denied access to credit. U.S. Bank, along with Twin Cities mortgage industry leader Wells Fargo, have a long history of offering toxic subprime loans, which contributed to the foreclosure crisis and the staggering drops in housing values that disproportionately affected people of color, stripping many moderate- and low-income communities of enormous amounts of housing wealth.

According to the report, “Twin Cities in Crisis: Unequal Treatment of Communities of Color in Mortgage Lending,” U.S. Bank is responsible for the second largest shortfall of lending in predominantly minority neighborhoods, such as North Minneapolis and the East side of St. Paul.

“We are here to call on U.S. Bank to take proactive steps to make our communities—targeted for toxic loans, then stripped of their wealth, and now denied credit—whole again,” said Pastor Trudy Cretsinger, who is attending the shareholder’s meeting, representing ISAIAH. “We need structural solutions to break this cycle of financial predation and starvation, and we expect more of U.S. Bank.”


Leave a comment

Workday Minnesota: Profits soar, but airlines leave workers behind

As they slash their workforces and pressure employees to work harder, U.S. airlines are poised to make record profits this year. But workers like Abdi Ali don’t expect to benefit.

Ali provides wheelchair and cart service to disabled passengers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport as an employee of Air Serv, a contractor for the airlines. He earns $7.25 an hour with no health insurance or other benefits.

“Most of us work two jobs to make a living,” said Ali, who joined with other airport workers for a demonstration Friday on the mezzanine above the Lindbergh Terminal’s ticket and security counters.

Airlines will post record earnings this year and North American carriers will be the most profitable, generating some $8.3 billion in earnings, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Profits have soared as airlines merge, limiting competition and creating a few giant carriers, including Delta Airlines, which operates the majority of the flights in and out of Minnesota. Carriers also have laid off thousands of workers to cut costs, the Transport Association said.

Profits for the few, however, have come at the expense of the many. The airlines’ strategy is dependent on outsourcing many services to cut-rate contractors. Today, more than 600 workers at MSP are employed by these outside companies to clean planes, handle baggage and transport passengers in and around the terminals. They earn poverty wages with no benefits.

“Fifteen years ago, most of these jobs here in the airport were good union jobs and workers here made over $17 an hour,” said Greg Nammacher, secretary-treasurer of Service Employees International Union Local 26. “It’s time people can actually support their families on these jobs.”

The airport workers are trying to organize with Local 26 and are conducting numerous actions to call attention to their working conditions.

At least one Metropolitan Airports Commission member is listening. Commissioner Erica Prosser, newly appointed by Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges, joined workers at Friday’s demonstration.

“We have a world class airport here. It is an economic driver for the state of Minnesota and all the region,” Prosser said. “It should be a great place for everybody, including the workers.

“I’m hoping to find a way for the MAC to have a role” in addressing the low wages paid to Ali and other airport workers, she said.

Friday’s action came as the Minnesota Legislature considers raising the state’s minimum wage to $9.50 an hour.

(From Workday Minnesota)

Leave a comment

Workday Minnesota: Workers call for action as legislators debate minimum wage increase

A legislative conference committee convened Thursday to consider an increase in Minnesota’s minimum wage, as workers continued a week of action to call attention to the problem of low wages.

The hearing room was packed as several dozen supporters and opponents testified before the conference committee, which must reconcile a House bill that raises the minimum to $9.50 an hour and a Senate bill that would increase it to $7.75.

Advocates said $9.50 – while a huge step forward from the state’s current minimum of $6.15 an hour – would still leave some people in poverty.

Cantaré Davunt of Duluth has worked at Walmart for nearly five years.  A college graduate, Davunt only makes $8.05 per hour and has been unable to find a better job in today’s economy.

For her, “$9.50 isn’t really a livable wage, but it’s better than what I have now.” An increase would help pay off her student loans, Davunt noted.

Other workers described working two or three jobs and having little time to spend with their children.

Kris Jacobs, executive director of the JOBS NOW Coalition, said new data shows a worker in Hennepin County would need to earn $18.53 an hour to cover food, housing and other basic needs for a family of four. In Blue Earth County, the figure needed to cover basic needs is $13.74 an hour.

“I ask that you keep these numbers in mind,” Jacobs told the lawmakers.

Marching on Walmart
Earlier on Thursday, miles away from the state Capitol, a group of single mothers marched in sub-zero temperatures to a Walmart store in Brooklyn Center. They called on the company to pay living wages to its employees and enact family-friendly policies to lift women and their children out of poverty.

Two out of three minimum wage workers are women, nearly four of 10 are women of color – and these women are disproportionately single mothers.

The demonstrators included Jacquita Berens, a single mother of three, who is a full-time student and works two full-time jobs. She is not a Walmart employee but has family and friends who work minimum wage jobs at the giant retailer.

“I and many others like me are working hard, long shifts daily, away from our children and families yet receive no benefits,” Berens said. “As employees, we’re constantly put in situations where we’re forced to choose whether to care for our sick children or lose our jobs. Poverty wages just aren’t right.”

Marchers also called on Walmart to stop retaliatory practices against workers for speaking out for better pay and working conditions. In particular, Thursday’s event spotlighted April Williams, whom Walmart fired earlier in the week after participating in a one-day strike last November at the Brooklyn Center store.

On Wednesday, Target was in the spotlight for the low wages paid to the workers who clean its stores. Demonstrators marched through the downtown Minneapolis skyways and walked silently, fists raised, through the Nicollet Mall Target store.

“I am a single mother of five children trying to get by on the $8 an hour I am paid to clean a Target store,” said Maricela Flores. “It must be difficult for the CEO of Target, Gregg Steinhafel, to understand what it is like to be paid such low wages. In 2012 Mr. Steinheffel made over $9,900 an hour – he does not have to live the constant reality of choosing between paying rent, food, clothes, healthcare, etc.

“We are calling on Mr. Steinheffel to take the ‘Working America Minimum Wage Challenge’and live on $7.25 an hour for one week to understand what we face.”

Opponents seek tip penalty
Back at the Capitol, opponents argued the minimum wage was mainly paid to teenagers and college students “learning basic job skills.”

They focused much of their testimony on the fact that Minnesota is one of only seven states that do not allow employers to substitute customer tips for wages. In Wisconsin, for example, servers and other tipped employees may be paid as little as $2.33 an hour, with the rest of their compensation coming from tips.

Lobbyists for the restaurant industry urged lawmakers to adopt language in the final minimum wage bill that would allow this “tip credit,” which supporters of a higher minimum wage refer to as a “tip penalty.”

Several members of the faith community spoke out in support of a higher wage, saying it was a moral issue.

The Rev. Eliot Howard of the Linden Hills United Church of Christ related the story of a 22-year-old father who is raising his two-year-old daughter essentially on his own, as his wife is suffering from a mental illness.

The young man earns $7.80 an hour. The family survives, in part, because of the church-run food shelf and other assistance. Occasionally, Howard said, he is able to give the young father an extra $20 to buy diapers.

“I’m speaking on his behalf and on behalf of all the other minimum wage workers who can’t be here,” he said.

The conference committee is scheduled to reconvene Friday to hear more testimony.

(From Workday Minnesota)

Leave a comment

With skyway march, activists put bullseye on Target’s poverty wages

Retail cleaning workers and other supporters of raising the state's minimum wage march in silence through the Target downtown Minneapolis.

Retail cleaning workers and other supporters of raising the state’s minimum wage march in silence through the Target downtown Minneapolis.

One day after a rally in support of raising Minnesota’s minimum wage rocked the Capitol rotunda, nearly 100 activists took their message to the skyways of Minneapolis, calling on Target and other corporations to join the fight against poverty wages.

The lunch-hour march yesterday snaked through the skyways and into Target’s flagship store. Inside, demonstrators silenced their drums, noisemakers and chants and walked through the aisles with their fists raised in quiet solidarity.

The Capitol rally and skyway march are part of a week of action in support ofraising the state’s minimum wage to $9.50 by 2015 and indexing the wage to ensure it keeps pace with inflation.

State lawmakers will begin hearings on a minimum-wage bill today, and activists intend to keep building momentum with events across the metro. Single mothers in Brooklyn Center will call on Walmart to back a wage hike today, and workers will rally against poverty wages at Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport tomorrow.

“We talked to the Legislature yesterday, but we also know we need to talk to the corporations who are responsible for keeping wages as low as they are,” Veronica Mendez told activists before the skyway march.

Mendez is an organizer with CTUL, the Twin Cities worker center that has given a voice to non-union workers employed by subcontractors to clean Target and other big-box stores. The workers say their wages have plunged and working conditions worsened in recent years, as Target cut costs by squeezing their employers, the cleaning contractors.

“I’ve been working in cleaning for almost 10 years and have only gotten one raise during that time, to my current rate of $9 per hour,” said Jose Cabrera, an employee of Carlson Maintenance who cleans a Target store. “This isn’t enough. I have a wife, two daughters and a new granddaughter, all of whom depend on me. My low wage requires me to have two jobs, which means I constantly miss out on time with my family just so we can scrape by.”

Cabrera and other CTUL activists staged three strikes last year, erecting picket lines outside area Target stores. And for the last six weeks, CTUL members have been holding “Fair Wage Wednesday” demonstrations outside Target’s corporate headquarters.

But cleaning workers aren’t the only ones who would benefit from a minimum-wage hike. The average pay for Target’s frontline staff ranges from $8.10 per hour for cashiers to $8.34 per hour for “team members” on the sales floor.

And those wages come at a high cost to the state’s taxpayers, according to a report released last November. It estimates 5,850 Target workers in Minnesota access public assistance at an annual public cost of $44.7 million.

“Corporations like Target and our elected officials in St. Paul have the power to raise wages for Minnesota workers, which will help families and stimulate our economy,” said Leroy Graham, a Target cleaning worker employed by Diversified. “The time for waiting is over. We need to raise the wage.”

Leave a comment

Downtown Journal: A battle for higher paychecks

Series of protests at downtown Target spotlight movement for higher minimum wage

Janitors who clean Target stores have launched a series of protests in recent weeks at the retailer’s flagship Nicollet Mall store to call for higher wages.

Workers and their supporters marched through the skyways Wednesday from the Hennepin County Government Center to the store at 9th & Nicollet to draw attention to the fight for an increase in the state’s minimum wage.

A group of retail cleaners affiliated with Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL) have held “Fair Wage Wednesday” events at the downtown Target for the past several weeks to spotlight their cause. They have called on Target CEO Gregg Steinhafel to take a minimum wage challenge for a week to experience life on the low end of the pay scale. A spokeswoman for Target did not respond to an email asking whether he planned to participate in the challenge.

Mayor Betsy Hodges, an ally of CTUL, bumped into the workers as she was walking to City Hall. Earlier this year she met with a group of low-wage workers with City Council Member Alondra Cano (Ward 9) to discuss ways to move forward on the higher minimum wage campaign.

“It’s time for the Legislature to raise the minimum wage in our state. People who work for a living should be able to earn a living,” Hodges said. “We have some of the largest gaps in the country between the haves and the have nots, and that includes a gap in wages. Raising the minimum wage is one step to address the soaring inequity in our city, our state and our country.”

The rally in downtown Minneapolis came after workers convened for a Raise the Wage event at the state Capitol.

Janitors who clean Target stores and other Twin Cities retailers held three strikes in 2013 in an attempt to secure higher pay.

An estimated 6,000 Target store workers in the state rely on public assistance, according to areport issued in November by Minnesotans for a Fair Economy, a coalition of faith, labor and community groups pushing for an end to poverty wages.

The Minnesota Restaurant Association and other business groups have voiced opposition to raising the minimum wage, arguing it would cost the state jobs and deter growth.

DFL leaders who control the Legislature, however, have pledged to make raising the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour a top priority this session, which kicked off Tuesday.

Leave a comment

RECAP: Black Friday Week of Action to End Poverty Wages in Minnesota


 At a time when things have never been better for a select few, things have never been worse for many workers in Minnesota. While corporations like Target and Walmart make record profits and pay their CEOs lavish salaries, the workers who make their profits happen during the holidays are falling further and further behind. In the quest for more and more profits, corporations are putting the squeeze on workers, the result of which is a future of work that is increasingly part-time with no benefits and poverty wages. The wages are so low that taxpayers are on the hook for billions of dollars per year to subsidize the low wages paid by these highly profitable corporations for items like food stamps and Medicaid for their workers.

Black Friday weekend, with $20 billion in spending during the weekend in 2012, is the biggest shopping weekend of the year. Workers and allies aligned with Minnesotans for a Fair Economy chose Thanksgiving week to highlight the inequities in the wages of workers who make holiday travel, shopping and more happen in Minnesota.

This Black Friday Week of Action connected various worker-led actions across Minnesota, calling on corporations and state legislators to end poverty wages in Minnesota. From worker strikes in Brooklyn Center & Minneapolis to protests in St. Cloud & Duluth to a large march on Black Friday in St. Paul, the week saw struggling workers bravely stand up to demand fair wages and a voice in the workplace along with an increase in the state minimum wage. Members of  faith, labor and community organizations stood shoulder to shoulder with these workers in support of their call for dignity and respect in the workplace, understanding that the extraction of wealth from our communities by big corporations affects us all.

Please find below a recap of each action along with press coverage during Minnesota for a Fair Economy’s Black Friday Week of Action to End Poverty Wages in Minnesota.

 Buy Local Report Release, 11/24 & 11/25

buy local cover

On Sunday and Monday, local think-tank Minnesota 2020 released their annual Buy Local report. The  report highlighted questions that shoppers should ask themselves when deciding where to spend their  money, including whether an establishment pays at least $9.50 an hour and provides benefits to their  workers. The report was released at various small businesses around the state that were lifted up as  doing right by their employees.

 See all of the press clips HERE.


OurWalmart Strike, 11/25

keith On Monday workers from the Brooklyn Center Walmart were joined by  Representative Keith Ellison as they walked off the job for a one-day ULP strike. The  associates were joined by Rep. Ellison and faith leaders as they told their manager    that they were speaking out for fair wages and the ability to express concerns without  the fear of retaliation. Strikers spoke outside the store surrounded by community  supporters who picketed to highlight the low wages at Walmart.

 See all press clips HERE.

Great Minnesota Worker Center Protest 11/26

gmwc The recently formed Greater Minnesota Worker Center highlighted their growing  strength by rallying in  protest outside of Work Connection, a St. Cloud temp agency.  The agency was highlighted, along with other temp agencies in the area, for their poor  treatment of workers. Workers from the Greater Minnesota Worker Center and  supporters led a delegation into the agency after the protest to call on Work  Connection to treat their workers with respect.

  See all of the press clips HERE.

Protest to End Poverty Wages at MSP 11/27

airport Airport workers who are paid poverty wages despite doing important jobs like  transporting seniors and passengers with disabilities and cleaning planes came together Wednesday in an effort to Bring Dignity Back to MSP. The workers, looking to organize with SEIU Local 26, held a press conference with Representative Keith Ellison and other supporters before silently marching through the terminal with signs calling to end poverty wages and ending the event with a protest outside of the terminal, all on the busiest travel day of the year.

See all of the press clips HERE.

CTUL Strike / March to End Poverty Wages, 11/29

ctul marchBlack Friday began at 5:30 a.m. as retail cleaning workers employed by contractors to clean stores like Target went on an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strike. Cleaners  from over 40 stores in the Twin Cities area, organizing with the worker center Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL), walked off the job and picketed with allies in front of Target’s flagship downtown Minneapolis store. The strike came after calling on the cleaning companies to guarantee fair wages and the right to organize without fear of retaliation and not getting a response.

After the CTUL picket line in Minneapolis ended, worker and allies from all of the week’s campaigns joined together in St. Paul for a march to end poverty wages. Hundreds marched by Target and Walmart before 26 Minnesotans participated in non-violent civil disobedience to highlight the urgency of giving workers a raise and ending poverty wages in Minnesota.

See all of the press clips HERE.

Leave a comment

We Make Black Friday Happen: March & Rally November 29th


Last year more than $20 billion was spent during the Black Friday weekend, resulting in giant profits for corporations like Target and Walmart, yet the workers who make Black Friday and holiday shopping happen are often forced to work for poverty wages. Minnesotans are standing up and saying that this isn’t right. We believe the employees who make Black Friday happen deserve better pay and working conditions.

Who will be standing together on Black Friday?

-Retail janitors aligned with CTUL who have set a strike deadline with the contractors they work for to clean stores like Target.

-OurWalmart workers who joining Walmart employees across the country in demanding change from the biggest retailer in the world.

-Workers and allies who are fighting with TakeAction Minnesota who are organizing to raise wages for workers across the state.

-Minnesotans from faith, labor and community organizations who know that the workers who make Black Friday happen deserve better than the poverty wages that many are paid from corporations making billions of dollars in profits.


Leave a comment