In our regular weekly feature, we'll be taking a look at the winners and losers of the week in the struggle for the rights of working families. The winners will be the persons or organizations that go above and beyond to expand or protect the rights of working families, while the losers will be whoever went above and beyond to limit or deny those rights.
In our regular weekly feature, we'll be taking a look at the winners and losers of the week in the struggle for the rights of working families. The winners will be the people or organizations that go above and beyond to expand or protect the rights of working families, while the losers will be whomever or whatever went above and beyond to limit or deny those rights.
On Thursday, the Minnesota legislature passed a bill that would raise the state's minimum wage for hundreds of thousands of workers to $9.50 per hour by 2016. Under the law, which supporters expect Gov. Mark Dayton (D) to sign, businesses with gross sales of $500,000 or higher are required to raise their minimum wage to $8 per hour in August, $9 a year later and $9.50 by August 2016. Many smaller employers will be allowed to pay a lower rate, one that will reach $7.75 by 2016. Workers under 18 and 19- to 20-year-olds who are training still can be paid $7.25 per hour. From 2018 forward, the state's wage will be indexed to inflation.
When a winter storm roared through Minnesota last month, snowplow driver Jeff Holte—a member of AFSCME Local 789—was clearing Interstate 94 and spreading sand near Evansville, Minn. But temperatures plummeted and, in a matter of minutes, Holte watched the road go from perfectly safe to a sheet of ice. He also saw a car lose control, roll into a ditch and, with its rear window broken and upside down, slide backward through previously fallen deep snow that nearly filled the car. That’s when he sprang into action.
Minnesota winters get awfully cold, and with the cost of heating, food, rent and other bills, the state's effective minimum wage of $7.25 an hour just isn't enough for hardworking residents to survive. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport workers, both those in unions and those who aren't, are stepping up to fight for a fair living wage that pays them enough to survive the harshest months of the year. Watch the video above to learn more about their efforts.
Minnesota is part of a growing group of states and localities that aren't sitting around and waiting for the federal government to take the lead on pushing to increase the minimum wage and move it closer to a living wage. Recently, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) and Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) introduced the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which hasn't gone anywhere in Congress. But that isn't stopping states like Minnesota, which are stepping up and getting the job done when it comes to raising the minimum wage.
This week, Minnesota state Rep. Jason Metsa (D) is taking the Working America Minimum Wage Challenge—living on the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. He’ll report his experience back to the Minnesota legislature, where they are considering a bill to raise the minimum wage to $9.95.
On Wednesday, Metsa’s challenge was to find a place to live. Why a challenge? His budget that he set out on Monday allowed for only $359 a month for housing.