Advocates pushing for a $15 minimum wage in Minneapolis say they’ve already gathered more than half the signatures they need to get the issue on the ballot in November.
Members of the group “15 Now” launched a petition drive last week, knocking on doors and fanning out at large community events such as the MayDay Parade in Minneapolis’ Powderhorn neighborhood.
Within eight days, group leaders said, they had gathered more than 4,000 signatures. Supporters need to get the signatures of about 7,000 eligible voters by this summer to put the measure on the ballot this fall.
Organizer Ginger Jentzen said 15 Now believes it can secure far more signatures — perhaps 20,000 or 30,000. The group plans to stage more events, including a neighborhood rally Friday evening at the Sabathani Community Center in south Minneapolis. That event will include musical performances and speeches and will be attended by least three members of the Minneapolis City Council: Alondra Cano, Elizabeth Glidden and Cam Gordon.
“We want to make a very clear case for raising the minimum wage,” Jentzen said.
The minimum-wage issue has been a topic of discussion at City Hall for more than a year, though there has been no specific policy proposed. Council members last year set aside $150,000 for a study on the likely impacts of a municipal or a regional minimum wage; results are expected this summer.
Mayor Betsy Hodges has said she does not support a citywide minimum wage hike, and some council members have expressed concerns about the city’s legal standing to raise wages.
The council has requested a legal opinion on the matter, and City Attorney Susan Segal said she’s preparing to provide it in the near future. That opinion, however, will remain private unless the council opts to disclose it.
The prospect of a ballot question may raise a separate legal question about which issues can go to a vote in Minneapolis, as the city allows for votes only on amendments to its charter, rather than on other specific issues.
Leaders of 15 Now have said they are confident that the city has the ability to raise the wage and to do so by ballot measure.
After more than 100 volunteers turned out to help gather signatures at the May Day events, Jentzen said it appeared that more people were willing to lend a hand to her group’s cause.
“What we really saw was folks being really excited,” she said, “wanting to get involved in the campaign, to sign up, donate, volunteer and build a grass-roots campaign for working people in Minneapolis.”