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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.”

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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.

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

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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.

-You?

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Oct. 5: March for Dignity and Respect!

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Join Minnesotans for a Fair Economy and leaders from the faith, labor and business communities in standing together to say the TIME IS NOW for common-sense immigration reform. We will be marching and rallying on a national day of action, one that will find over 40 cities hosting massive marches to fix our broken immigration system. Details are below, and you can RSVP on the events Facebook page.

The march will begin at the Basilica of St. Mary, 88 N 17th St, Minneapolis 55403.

12:30 pm: Interfaith prayer service

1:00 pm: March

2:00 Rally at the Hennepin County Government Plaza

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People’s Party! (Thursday, June 20th)

Minnesota has just finished up a historic legislative session. There were victories on virtually every front.  The Dream Act. Ban the Box. Homeowners’ Bill of Rights. Medicaid expansion. All Day K and a tuition freeze for students. Progressive Taxation and Closing Corporate Tax Loopholes. Home Care and Child Care Organizing. A serious increase in funding for low-income housing. New Solar Energy Standards. Workers rights included unemployment benefits for locked out workers and workers compensation reform. Family-supporting jobs. And on and on and on. What we won is just as important as how we won – with people powered, grassroots activism.

The People’s Party will celebrate the accomplishments of this legislative session and the grassroots volunteers, leaders, and organizations that made them happen. This is casual, fun, family-friendly event. Think more mingling and chatting than listening to speakers speak.

RSVP here if you can make it Thursday. All are welcome!

This is event is co-sponsored by: Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless * Sierra Club * St. Paul Federation of Teachers * Land Stewardship Project *Headwaters Foundation for Justice* Education Minnesota * SEIU * OutFront Minnesota * Communications Workers of America (CWA) * NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota * Minnesotans for a Fair Economy * Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC) * Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota * TakeAction Minnesota * Minnesota AFL-CIO * AFSCME Council 5 * Jewish Community Action * Line Break Media * Want to add your organization to this list? Let us know.

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A Historic Session

The 2013 Minnesota Legislative session has come to an end. Many of you made your voices heard over the last five months, fighting for a more just Minnesota, and your hard work paid off in clear and impressive victories. Undoubtedly, this was a historic legislative session that helped move us towards a stronger, better Minnesota.

None of it would have been possible without you. Here are just a few of the accomplishments:

· Passing a strong Homeowners’ Bill of Rights, giving homeowners some of the strongest foreclosure protections in the country

· A fair and balanced budget that raised taxes on the top two percent and closed corporate tax loopholes so that the richest among us will now pay their fair share

· Historic investments in education, including funding for all-day Kindergarten, a two-year freeze on tuition at state schools, beginning to pay back the money borrowed from our schools and a boost in support for K-12 education

· Homecare workers were given the right to vote and decide whether they want to form a union

· Creation of a consumer-driven health exchange that allows individuals and small businesses to have access to affordable health insurance AND the strengthening of MinnesotaCare

· Extending “Ban the Box” policies to private employers, allowing workers to be judged on their skills and qualifications, not simply on their past

Even with these victories, there is still work to be done. There will be more battles to be won in the coming months, both in the streets and at the Capitol. Follow our Facebook pageTwitter feed and sign up for text alerts on our home page for updates as we continue to stand up and fight for an economy that works for ALL Minnesotans!

Thank you for your work.

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Banks Got Nowhere to Run To, Baby

Greg Kaufmann from The Nation on how U.S. Bank moved their shareholder meeting to Idaho after 2012 event was dominated by members of Minnesotans for a Fair Economy.

 

By Greg Kaufmann from The Nation series “This Week In Poverty.” | Originally published on April 12th

Last year, US Bank held its annual shareholders meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota, home of its corporate headquarters. The event was dominated by shareholders and proxies who are members of Minnesotans for a Fair Economy, an alliance of community, faith and labor organizations working for a more equitable economy.

“Our members asked CEO Richard Davis direct questions about issues like principal reductions and foreclosures, and payday lending,” said Eric Fought, communications director of the organization. “We were really effective in holding them accountable, so this year they looked for another solution—to hide from us.”

On Tuesday, April 16, US Bank officers will jet from their hometown to hold this year’s meeting in Boise, Idaho. If the bankers are hoping for a better reception in this reddest of states, or that activists will take a pass on the long distance travel required to get there, then Martha and the Vandellas have a word of advice:Got nowhere to run to, baby. Nowhere to hide.

More than 100 members of the Idaho Community Action Network (ICAN)—who are mostly rural, working poor and seniors—will travel to take direct, non-violent action both inside and outside of the meeting. More than half of these individuals will be driving 3 to 7 hours to reach the venue. Their allies from Minnesotans for a Fair Economy will be there to greet them, along with workers from SEIU Local 503—the largest union in Oregon with 54,000 members.

“People are so excited that Minneapolis and Oregon are coming to support this effort,” said ICAN executive director Terri Sterling. “It helps our membership, it helps motivate them.”

Among the issues on the agenda: a call for US Bank to pay its fair share in taxes; write-down mortgages to help stem the foreclosure and underwater mortgage crisis; and end payday loans with exorbitant interest rates. These issues are of concern, of course, not only to the activists from these three states, but also to people across the country.

“Almost anywhere the banks go in the country—they will find out as they try to hide away at their meetings—there will be a set of groups agreeing that the role of banks in the economy and politics of the country is damaging,” said labor organizer Stephen Lerner, who created the Justice for Janitors campaign and is now working on Wall Street accountability campaigns.

Sterling says that even in a state like Idaho she hasn’t “found one person—red, blue, or tea party—that likes big banks.”

Idaho has the highest share of minimum wage workers in the country, and for every job opening that pays a living wage for a family of three, there are 32 job seekers. According to LeeAnn Hall, executive director of theAlliance for a Just Society, a national coalition of eight state-based community organizations (including ICAN), 4,400 families lost their homes to foreclosure in 2012. Today, 22 percent of all mortgage holders in the state are “underwater,” owning more on their mortgages than their homes are worth. In Canyon County, where approximately 12 percent of Idaho’s population resides, 66 percent of homeowners are underwater—one of the highest rates in the nation.

“Our members are doing multiple jobs to make ends meet, and often times not making ends meet,” said Hall. “As a result they are losing their homes, or using payday loans to stretch and meet their family obligations—to their detriment.”

US Bank calls its payday loan product a “checking account advance,” and it has an annual percentage rate (APR) of up to 365 percent. It also helps finance some of the largest payday loan companies in the country, including Advance America, Cash America and EZ Corp. These “easy money” businesses cluster around low-income communities and communities of color.

Sterling spoke about ICAN member Miranda Davis who was disabled at 19 but as a single mother of two kids still “works to make ends meet.” When her car broke down, she used her utility money to repair it so she could commute to work—and then she took out a $300 payday loan to cover her utility bill. She was only able to pay back the $75 per month interest, and eventually needed another $300 loan.

“She’s now paying nearly $200 per month in interest alone,” said Sterling. “She can work as hard as she can and she won’t ever make enough money to pay off those loans.”

ICAN and Minnesotans for a Fair Economy have been pushing for a 36 percent cap in their states—the same one mandated by the federal government for members of the military and their families. Arizona, Montana and Oregon have also adopted a 36 percent cap on all payday loans.

“If they’re gonna set up a bank in my community, then by golly they should provide me with a short-term, fair lending product that’s less than 36 percent,” said Sterling.

While payday loans and overdraft fees are trapping low-income people in cycles of debt, foreclosures are draining wealth from entire communities.

Activists will speak at the US Bank shareholders meeting about their own experiences with unnecessary, unfair and too often illegal foreclosures. Fought said that last year there was a “success” when homeowner Monique White approached CEO Davis after the shareholders meeting, told him her story, and was then able to get a modification to remain in her home.

But with more than 141,000 foreclosures in the state since 2008, 100,000 homeowners still underwater, lost home value of over $20 billion, and a cost to local governments of $1.5 billion to maintain vacant, bank-owned properties—Fought says these individual successes are hardly enough.

“We want broad solutions,” said Fought. “We know principal reductions to fair market value can solve this. We want to continue to dialogue with US Bank, but it’s been two years now—it’s time to make the solutions a reality.”

Hall said that reducing mortgages to fair market value would save Idaho families over $290 million annually in mortgage payments—money that would be spent in the community and create jobs.

“US Bank is draining resources out of families’ pockets and Idaho’s economy as a whole,” said Hall.

SEIU Local 503 is currently at the bargaining table trying to bring some of those lost resources back to Oregon. Democratic Governor John Kitzhaber is pressing for cuts in the pension fund to make up for resources that vanished in the economic meltdown. But the union estimates that Wall Street lost as much as $300 million through fraud and unethical behavior, and that they should be targeted for investigation and repayment, rather than retirees paying for Wall Street’s misdeeds. The state has $150 million to $180 million in pending lawsuits against some of these firms but the union says “that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

Fought said that it is critical that US Bank paying its fair share of revenues in Minnesota as well—that a decade of “cuts only” budgets under former Governor Tim Pawlenty (current CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable) was “devastating for people.” He noted, for example, that the state has been forced to borrow money from school funding to pay for other bills. Meanwhile, US Bank actively lobbies for tax breaks and loopholes through the Minnesota Business Partnership.

“We need to ensure that we have adequate funding for education, health care and other human services, and because US Bank is based here, they have a unique responsibility,” said Fought. “The fact is if we want to be effective in our work for a better economy we have to look at the larger problem here—these banks are really destroying communities.”

The action in Boise is part of a broader and diverse movement that is renewing the focus on big banks and irresponsible corporate neighbors that prevent a more equitable economy. A week later, activists will be in Salt Lake City, where Wells Fargo will do its best to hide after holding its shareholder meeting last year in San Francisco. Bank of America and JPMorgan shareholder meetings are just around the corner, too. You can get involved here.

“There is a wonderful alignment developing between unions, community groups and groups focused on Wall Street accountability,” said Lerner. “Instead of having many separate fights on issues—on how to fund local government and public services, how to keep people in their homes, how to address money in politics—people are seeing that they are all connected because it’s the same giant banks at the center of so many crises.”

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Religious community stand together to fight for the Homeowner Bill of Rights

By Jacob Wheeler, March 28th, 2013. Originally posted at The Uptake.

Holy Week isn’t just a school holiday when kids color eggs and dress up like bunnies. For progressive faith leaders who represent the ISAIAH coalition of churches and social justice believers, remembering the passion, death and Resurrection of Christ is a sacred time, and an appropriate time to call out sin and to come to the aid of those in need.

It’s also a propitious time, the religious leaders decided, to call on lawmakers and the banking industry to stop fighting laws empowering home owners facing foreclosure.

So on Maundy Thursday in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Park, half a dozen people of the cloth gathered in front of a vacant house, a home abandoned by a family of six after they defaulted on their mortgage during the 2008 financial crisis. With a wooden cross punctured by nails lying on the snow before them, leaders of Isaiah/Faith in Democracy prayed and preached the need for enshrining homeowner rights in state law, and for an end to the bank-driven home foreclosure crisis.

“As people of faith, we remember Holy Week as the time when Jesus came to redeem people from sin, from shame and from destruction,” said Rev. Paul Slack, the pastor of New Creation Church in Minneapolis and the President of ISAIAH. “When we see all the unnecessary foreclosures in Minnesota, we see that as sin.”

Part of Isaiah’s program is an on-going effort “to create a Minnesota that seeks fairness in all its dealings, eliminating financial discrimination against communities of color, supporting best practices in foreclosure prevention, and taking an aggressive approach to enforcing fair lending laws.” The group has been working hard to convince Democrats who control the Legislature to support a “Homeowners’ Bill of Rights” that would establish a single point of contact for struggling homeowners, stop “dual-tracking” practices by banks and require automatic mediation between every person facing foreclosure and their lender. But the effort has been frustrated, so far, by the reluctance of some Democrats to oppose the banking industry and its lobbyists.

Rep. Mike Freiberg, (DFL-Golden Valley), introduced legislation modeled after California’s Homeowners’ Bill of Rights, which advocates say has significantly reduced foreclosures and evictions. But Freiberg’s initiative was stonewalled in committee, as fellow Democrats watered down the legislation after the banking industry objected.

“Financial institutions and corporations are experiencing record-breaking profits,” said Pastor Slack. “We call upon them now to join us in the redemptive strategy of keeping families inside their homes…We need to think about the people who lived in this home. Not just the home, not just the dollars behind it, but the children who were growing up here.”

Though the deadline for introducing legislation has passed, Rev. Grant Stevensen of Saint Paul-Reformation Church in St. Paul said he hopes Democrats (who have a majority in both chambers) will still push the bill forward, bring it to the House and Senate floors for a vote and present it to Governor Mark Dayton — whom activists hope would sign such a bill.

Stevensen recalled that in the late 1980s, a similar political battle was fought between banks and farmers who faced foreclosure. At the time, the banks resisted efforts to make them enter into negotiations with the farmers.

“If you ask (the banks) today what they think about the mediation between them and farmers, they would say it was good piece of legislation because it helped us keep so many family farms,” said Stevensen.

“Five years from now, after we pass the homeowners’ bill of rights, banks that are currently saying ‘this is not a good idea’ are going to be saying ‘that was a good idea’. It was good for our communities. It was good for our families. And it was ultimately good for the banks.”

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Report Shows Ongoing Economic Impact of Minnesota’s Foreclosure Crisis

Hundreds of Minnesotans join legislators, clergy in highlighting need for commonsense solution to statewide problem

ST. PAUL (February 27, 2013) — A new report released today by Minnesota-based community organizations highlights the devastating impact of the ongoing foreclosure crisis on all Minnesota families. It was officially released this afternoon in an event on the south steps of the State Captiol where hundreds of concerned Minnesotans joined state legislators and leaders of various faiths in discussing the crisis.

wreckingballcoverState Senator Patricia Torres Ray and State Representatives John Lesch and Mike Freiberg addressed the crowd, giving an update on the “Homeowners’ Bill of Rights,” comprehensive foreclosure legislation currently being considered in the Legislature.

“Minnesotans are still reeling from the effects of the Great Recession, which brought record rates of unemployment and foreclosures and blew holes in the state budgets nationwide,” the report states. “While it was Wall Street’s toxic lending practices and recklessness that created the economic crisis, it is Minnesota homeowners and taxpayers who are still paying the price.”

The full PDF of the report is available here: http://action.mnfaireconomy.org/page/-/wallstreetwreckingballmn.pdf

The report’s introduction continues, “The big banks that caused this crisis have not done enough to fix it. Instead, they exacerbated it with ‘unsafe and unsound’ mortgage servicing and foreclosure practices that led to countless unfair and unnecessary foreclosures.”

“These multinational banks gambled recklessly with our loans in the global marketplace, ruined our entire economy, and then were bailed out of their own well-deserved bankruptcies with our tax money because they were ‘too big to fail,’” said Rev. Jin S. Kim of the Church of All Nations. “Since we bailed them out, they need to be accountable to us the taxpayers and do the right thing.”

“The crisis has devastated rural Minnesota,” said Sarah Larson, a Waverly homeowner and small business owner. “In Waverly, 20 percent of the homes have been foreclosed on—destabilizing communities and uprooting families. We have all been impacted by the housing crash.”

The report, released by ISAIAH, Jewish Community Action and Minnesotans for a Fair Economy is available here: http://action.mnfaireconomy.org/page/-/wallstreetwreckingballmn.pdf

Some of the data included in the report shows the impact of foreclosures by the numbers.

Foreclosures from 2008-2012: 141,239

Lost home value from 2008-2012: $20.7 billion
Cost to local governments in 2008-2012: $1.5 billion
Children affected by foreclosure: 94,000
Underwater homeowners in Minnesota: 100,000

The report release occurs on the third day of the Unlock Our Future Week of Action, being coordinated by the organizations listed above and several others. This morning, security officers who protect Minnesota’s most celebrated corporations, including Target and U.S. Bank went on strike in downtown Minneapolis. Later today, a large rally and march is scheduled to take place in south Minneapolis, ending at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.

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Unlock Minnesota’s Future: February Week of Action

Introduction

Over the last two years, Minnesotans for a Fair Economy has brought together a broad alliance of labor, faith-based groups and community organizations to boldly address economic and racial justice issues in Minnesota. Hundreds of members of these organizations have joined activists from the broader community in calling attention to the role big banks and other large corporations have had in the collapse of Minnesota’s economy.

Don't Foreclose on the American DreamWe’ve marched in the streets. We’ve attended shareholder meetings and asked questions directly of bank CEOs. We have filled the rotunda of our State Capitol and overflowed hearing rooms. We have prayed together with leaders of multiple faiths. Together we’ve shut down bridges and streets and stood on the steps of foreclosed homes in support of homeowners.

And yet, the CEOs continue to operate as they always have. Banks continue to proceed with unnecessary and unfair foreclosures—the same banks that have been bailed out with our tax dollars. And the banks, with significant international presence and power, refuse to help Somali Minnesotans send money home to their loved ones in East Africa. A year after the humanitarian crisis began there remains no solution. While they are unwilling to transfer funds to starving families in Somalia, the banks have no problem transferring money into the accounts of vulnerable Minnesotans, charging astronomical interest through predatory payday lending practices.

Corporations continue to hire irresponsible contractors to clean their buildings and stores, sending more and more Minnesotans into poverty and jeopardizing their safety.

 

Minnesota Values

The reality of Minnesota’s ongoing economic crisis is stark. Today, years after the crash and downturn, families that once were comfortably in the middle class find themselves living in poverty. Each day more homes become vacant as unnecessary foreclosures force homeowners on the street. And more and more jobs are being offered at a fraction of what they once paid.

For most Minnesotans, there has been no recovery.

However, Minnesota’s most celebrated corporations—including Minneapolis-based U.S. Bank and Target—find themselves well in the black. Profits are being made and unlike Minnesota’s middle class, big banks and corporations are doing very well.

110804021654_target_shopping_cartsMinnesotans enjoy supporting homegrown businesses. Each day, we shop at Target or Best Buy and bank with U.S. Bank, believing that in some way we are supporting our communities. After all, these corporations convince us with slick advertising and cutting edge technology that they are “invested” in our neighborhoods. We want to believe that in some way we are supporting Minnesota’s Main Street when we shop or bank with these companies.

Unfortunately, the reality is that Target, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo each act much more like Wall Street than Main Street Minnesota. And as a result, these companies lock Minnesotans into an economy that is far from fair and balanced.

It is long past time for these companies to take a leadership position and work to move Minnesota forward and unlock our future. That certainly includes job creation, but it is much more.

In doing so, these companies can make a real difference in the lives of so many Minnesotans. In doing so, they will be doing the right thing to get Minnesota back on track, by putting money into the hands of employees and consumers that will spend that money in their stores and deposit it at their branches.

Right now too many Minnesotans working at Target can’t afford to shop there. Too many Minnesotans who clean the headquarters of U.S. Bank can’t afford to open a savings account.

This all can and will change when these corporations step up and do the right thing for all Minnesotans. This isn’t about one group or community. It’s about all of us.

Our Minnesota values rely heavily on helping each other. When crisis hits, we are there for each other. We expect these corporations to do the same—to do what they can to get Minnesota working again.

Our patience is running thin. Time and again promises have been made by U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo and Target that have not been fulfilled. Lawsuits and OSHA complaints have been filed alleging noncompliance with wage and hour laws and unsafe working conditions for workers employed by contractors in Target stores. The banks have been caught participating in lending practices that have harmed our communities greatly.

To achieve the future we deserve, Minnesotans are asking for the crises in our communities to be addressed: the income gap, racial disparities, education, jobs, housing. 

Last spring we reached out to open a dialogue with leaders of U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo and Target. However, after years of trying to fully engage with them, they have refused to lead.

So, we have a set a community deadline for noon on Sunday, February 24. We are asking that these companies agree to the following:

  1. Publicly commit to fixing Minnesota’s housing crisis by writing down home mortgages to current market value. This will pump billions into our economy.
  1. Publicly withdraw your opposition to the “Homeowners’ Bill of Rights” being considered in Minnesota’s state legislature. This will empower more Minnesotans to reach—and keep—their American Dream.
  1. Agree to a fair mediation process before evicting any more Minnesotans from their homes.
  1. Publicly support a more fair and balanced revenue structure for Minnesota. This will ensure that the responsibility to pay taxes lies less on working people and more on those who have the ability to pay. Stop taking advantage of tax loopholes and pay your fair share in taxes.
  1. Adopt fair hiring practices. This will reduce unemployment in African-American communities and will move our country forward toward its promise of true equality.
  1. Open the lifeline of funds supporting families in East Africa. This will enable hardworking Somali Minnesotans to support their loved ones at home, and help ease the ongoing humanitarian crisis.
  1. Lower interest rates on payday loan products to comply with Minnesota law. This will enable ordinary Minnesotans to keep more of the money that they earn.
  1. Commit to using only responsible contractors—who pay fair wages and benefits and allow their workers to form a union—in your places of business.
  1. Publicly support the efforts of more than 6,000 Twin Cities janitors and security officers to win good jobs with healthcare, good jobs that our community needs.
  1. Publicly advocate for the full funding of our schools, colleges and Universities, restoring funding cut previously and calling for an end to any further cuts.

 

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