Hundreds of hourly wage workers and advocates marched through downtown Minneapolis and to City Hall on Wednesday, urging the city to adopt laws that would mandate paid sick leave, more predictable scheduling and a higher minimum wage.
Marchers with Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL) and other workers' groups gathered on the steps of City Hall, where a handful of people shared stories and organizers unveiled the results of a recent study of north Minneapolis workers.
The speakers told of working for low wages, often while sick or running on little sleep after working late-night and early-morning shifts, back to back.
Rod Adams, a former employee of two restaurants, said he was ordered to keep working at one after he suffered a serious injury from a kitchen knife, and was often required to work closing hours followed by opening hours at the second business.
"Why should you have to work two or three jobs?" he said. "Why should you miss out on time for school? Why should you miss out on time with your family?"
Anthony Newby, executive director of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, said a recent study his group did of more than 500 workers on the North Side revealed that many face similar challenges. More than 40 percent of the people surveyed said unpredictable work schedules — often not provided until the day before, or even hours before a shift — contributed to financial problems. More than half the hourly workers surveyed said they received schedules a week or less in advance.
More than 60 percent of the workers said they had to come into work sick because paid sick leave was not offered by their employer.
Marchers later moved inside City Hall, where dancers performed and a drum line echoed around the building's main entrance. Leaders called on six City Council members who turned out for the event — Lisa Bender, Jacob Frey, Elizabeth Glidden, Cam Gordon, Alondra Cano and Andrew Johnson — to pledge that they would canvass neighborhoods on behalf of workers' issues and cast their votes for workers' policies.
Several council members and Mayor Betsy Hodges have been vocal in their support for policies that would require fair scheduling, enforce overtime pay and provide sick leave for more workers.
Fewer city leaders have pledged immediate support for the $15 minimum wage that workers' groups have proposed.
The council members at the event applauded the turnout and said they wanted to tackle the issues soon.