Activists pushing for Minneapolis to adopt a minimum wage of $15 per hour pressed their case on north Minneapolis' busiest commercial corridor Monday, briefly shutting down part of the street.
Upward of 150 people rallied at a Wendy's on W. Broadway, calling on the city to pass a citywide minimum wage ordinance.
It was the first significant public rally on the subject since the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled last month that the issue could not be put to the city's voters this fall.
The City Council has asked staff members to make policy recommendations on the wage issue by the second quarter of 2017. And a city-commissioned study on the economic impact of a citywide minimum wage is expected to be released in October, city spokeswoman Sarah McKenzie said on Monday.
But activists rallying on the North Side said they want faster action.
"We are not going to wait until April. We want it now, because the rent won't wait," Nestor Garcia of the group 15 Now Minnesota told the crowd.
The council's action to consider a minimum wage proposal next year passed the City Council overwhelmingly this August. Two of the measure's primary backers have said in recent weeks that they have no intention of altering that timeline to meet activists' demands.
"What we want to let City Council know today is that we need a $15-an-hour ordinance passed now," said Michael McDowell, an organizer with Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha. "Not tomorrow, not next week, not next year, but now."
Following the rally at Wendy's, the crowd moved up W. Broadway to visit a number of what Neighborhoods Organizing for Change organizer Rod Adams called "poverty profiteers" — including fast-food restaurants, a payday lender and a bank.
Many were wearing T-shirts of the Minnesota Nurses Association, which represents nurses currently on strike against Allina Health.
Despite their frustration, however, activists acknowledged that they have made progress at City Hall.
"Two years ago, City Hall wasn't even thinking about raising the minimum wage," Garcia said. "And now we have them working on trying to pass a $15 minimum wage and put an end to poverty wages here in Minneapolis."
Just how firm that support is remains to be seen, however. Mayor Betsy Hodges, for example, has said she is opposed to Minneapolis taking a go-it-alone approach on raising the minimum wage.
Eric Roper • 612-673-1732