About 100 low-wage workers and labor advocates, some waving signs that read “End wage theft now!” and “Invisible no more,” rallied outside the downtown Minneapolis Macy’s store Friday morning for higher wages and better benefits.
As temperatures dipped into the mid-20s, several speakers huddled outside the store’s northeast entrance at S. 7th Street and Nicollet Mall and spelled out the group’s demands: an increase in the minimum wage to $15, paid sick leave, fair scheduling and better treatment by employers.
Tecara Monn, who works for a food service company, said that this year she had Thanksgiving off for the first time in nearly two decades. The crowd, which included state Rep. Raymond Dehn, DFL-Minneapolis, responded with a chorus of “that ain’t right.”
Multiple speakers said low-wage workers shouldn’t have to come in on “shopping holidays,” pointing to changing consumer behavior as more Black Friday shoppers go online for deals instead of waiting in long lines at stores.
The demonstration was the latest in a series of actions by advocates in Minneapolis and other U.S. cities who want better wages and benefits for restaurant and retail workers. In recent months, demonstrators have descended on City Hall to protest the City Council’s decision to scale back the Working Families Agenda, a suite of citywide workplace reforms aimed at closing the social and economic gaps that separate rich and poor, and white and minority workers.
“If they wanted to fight for us, they could,” said Kevin Harriman, a retail worker and member of the advocacy group Working America. “We know the majority of Minneapolis wants this.”
He added that he was “fed up, frankly, with the so-called progressive politicians who say they are on our side and then they don’t do anything.”
Mayor Betsy Hodges has said she does not support a citywide minimum wage increase, but the council has said it plans to study how such an increase would affect the local economy. A recently appointed group will present a recommendation on a citywide sick-leave policy in February.