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Working America uplifts worker voices in campaign for $15-an-hour minimum wage in St. Paul

Last year, Working America, alongside coalition partners, helped pass a $15-per-hour minimum wage in Minneapolis. This year, Working America members in St. Paul are taking up the fight for living wages for workers.

Working America’s 260,000 members in Minnesota — including 26,000 in St. Paul — support a living wage for workers in St. Paul.

Over the last several months, Working America canvassers have gone door to door, holding more than 10,000 conversations with voters about raising wages in St. Paul.

Working America also conducted a survey of hundreds of low-wage workers throughout the city to listen to their concerns and make sure their voices were heard in City Hall.

The survey results demonstrate that low-wage workers aren’t simply teenagers working for extra spending money. The older workers surveyed were just as likely to make minimum wage as their co-workers. Half the low-wage workers surveyed said that they use their income to support their family members and loved ones.

When we asked workers what they’d do with a $15-an-hour minimum wage, they overwhelmingly said that they’d use the additional income to meet basic needs and to save for college, fix a car or pay down debt.

Natasha, a Working America member, said, “I’m a mother of three, and working at my current job for $13 per hour is not enough to cover my basic needs.”

Another member, Melanie, said, “I’m working at McDonald’s for 20 years and [am] HIV-positive. Medical bills piling up, raising a grandson. It’s a very tight struggle to make ends meet.”

According to the Citizen’s League, one full-time and one part-time worker would need to earn roughly $19 per hour to cover the $60,000 annual cost of child care, health care, transportation, housing and other expenses associated with raising one child.

In Minnesota, the state minimum wage is far lower than that, just $7.87/hour for small employers and $9.65/hour for large employers.

In fact, St. Paul has the highest poverty rates in the Twin Cities metro area — higher than Brooklyn Center, Columbia Heights and Minneapolis.

Working America participated in St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter’s rally, where he reaffirmed his commitment to a $15 per hour minimum wage.

But because there isn’t yet a clear majority for a $15-an-hour minimum wage among the seven members of the City Council, Working America is pushing for City Council members to respect the mayor’s mandate. It’s time for them to step up to make sure that working people in St. Paul are paid enough in wages to sustain a family.

A listening session is being held on Aug. 4. Interested in coming and making your voice heard? Let us know.

Working America Statement on the Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 Decision

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