Civil Rights

Minneapolis City Council Introduce New Wage Theft Prevention Ordinance

Workers, council members and Mayor praise step towards addressing wage theft in Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS — Friday morning the Minneapolis City Council introduced a new wage theft prevention ordinance. The law will ensure workers in the city are protected from the growing wage theft crisis, especially with the $15 minimum wage and earned sick and safe time passed over the last two years in Minneapolis.

CTUL_End_Wage_Theft_Now_rsAfter the Council introduction, workers and supporters shared why it is so important to take this action at a press conference at City Hall.

Mya Bradford, a ROC-MN member and former Bonchon Minneapolis Server, shared her story of facing wage theft in Minneapolis. 

“I experienced wage theft here in Minneapolis as a server at Bonchon in Uptown. It affected my life, my housing, and my being able to support my son. We had to fight publicly to be paid back stolen wages and are still owed money. Wage theft is just another example of the upper hand stealing from workers. This new ordinance will help protect moms like me.”
 
Juana Cinto, a member of CTUL who was a daycare worker in Minneapolis, shared her story of experiencing wage theft in Minneapolis and the challenges it caused her family. 
 
“I went through wage theft in Minneapolis when working at a daycare. My boss had problems in giving me payments constantly, including giving me checks without funds. The last days I worked he did not pay me. I would call him and he never answered. With time passing, other coworkers went with me to CTUL and demanded our wages. To this day we have never recovered our money. It has affected us a lot. I wasn’t able to help my mom, who was really sick at the time. It made me angry to not be paid for my work. I think it is time we raise our voices, which is why we are here demanding leaders in Minneapolis take action and pass this anti-wage theft law. Let’s make sure this type of abuse doesn’t happen to any more families.”
 
Council Member Linea Palmisano, one of the co-authors of the ordinance, spoke about the scope of this problem facing workers in Minneapolis.
 
“Wage theft is an issue that’s inherently hard to track because it is all complaint-based, and we know that workers are very often fearful of retaliation if they do so, but we know that this is a serious problem in Minneapolis. Between 2005-2014, the United States Department of Labor found over 5,500 violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act by employers in Minneapolis, totaling over $2.7 million in unpaid wages. And that is probably just a drop in the bucket.”
 
Council Member Steve Fletcher, another of the co-authors of the ordinance, shared how the new law will relate to the recently passed statewide anti-wage theft law.
“We are thrilled that the legislature passed a pretty comprehensive package of policy changes in the final budget deal, and additional funding for enforcement in the Department of Labor and Industry. Now we want to join that team effort as a City. This ordinance will complement state law by adding wage theft prevention to our existing labor standards, allowing our Civil Rights staff to enforce violations of that law and a small set of additional protections that we are including in our ordinance.With the work of the Workplace Advisory Committee, and everyone we’ve heard from today, this effort has already had broad engagement from workers, unions, small and large businesses, and more, and that engagement will now continue as this ordinance progresses.”
 
Council Member Phillipe Cunningham, also a co-author of the ordinance, shared how the process to get this ordinance passed came to be and why it is so important.
 
“Over the last 18 months, the Workplace Advisory Committee has worked to develop a comprehensive wage theft prevention agenda to complement our minimum wage and earned sick and safe time policies. With this ordinance, Minneapolis Civil Rights staff will be able to field reports of violations that may include multiple components: a lack of paid sick time, a minimum wage violation, and/or wage theft. So it just makes sense for us to pass this ordinance and add that capability.”
 
Mayor Jacob Frey joined the press conference and shared the importance of this ordinance in addressing racial inequalities in the city of Minneapolis. 
 
“Prior to our passage of our minimum wage ordinance, 41 percent of all black workers and 54 percent of all Latino workers in Minneapolis earned less than $15 per hour. That’s compared with just 17 percent of white workers. It’s great that workers are getting a raise. But everyone needs to know — and understand — that these workers are entitled to that raise and to sick leave. And they should know that the City has their back when they assert those rights. It’s never enough to pass a law, pat yourself on the back, and declare victory. Indeed, the quickest way to erode trust in government is to pass laws that you don’t enforce.”

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SEIU Minnesota State Council Calls on Senator Schoen & Representative Cornish to Resign

Saint Paul — The SEIU Minnesota State Council voted Monday at the November Executive Board meeting to call for the immediate resignations of Senator Dan Schoen and Representative Tony Cornish following news of sexual harassment at the State Capitol. The State Council released the following statement:

23BCornish_54Schoen_bw_rs“The Labor Movement is built on the premise of dignity and equality for all working people, something that our society is still painfully far from achieving. Our union is made up of hospital workers, school staff, janitors, home care workers, security officers and more, with a membership that is predominantly female. Our members know that a toxic, unsafe work environment is still the reality for too many working people. The daily injustices are especially pronounced for women and people of color, and are perpetrated and protected by systems of power that we are happy to see being increasingly challenged and dismantled. Harassment is a pervasive problem throughout our country, including both political parties and even the labor movement itself.

“The news of sexual harassment at the Capitol, and specific instances of inappropriate behavior from Sen. Schoen and Rep. Cornish, highlight the toxic and dangerous environment facing women in workplaces all over the state of Minnesota. We can and should hold elected officials to the highest possible standards, and by all accounts Sen. Schoen and Rep. Cornish have failed that test. We call on Senator Schoen and Representative Cornish to resign from their positions. We also join in calls for a systematic plan to address harassment at the Capitol — and all workplaces — that has allowed for this kind of behavior to become so engrained.”

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SEIU is the workers who provide care and support for your family in public schools, hospitals, higher education, nursing homes, schools, in your homes and the Twin Cities’ largest public and private buildings. The SEIU Minnesota State Council coordinates the electoral, legislative and outreach work of the SEIU Locals in Minnesota to increase the effectiveness of their collective bargaining and new member organizing campaigns. By building the political involvement of the approximately 60,000 SEIU members throughout the state, the State Council is working to improve the lives of all Minnesotans. The State Council’s board is comprised of elected leaders, members, and staff of the five SEIU Local Unions in Minnesota.

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Supporting Healthy Families

While some in our state are doing better than ever, many Minnesota workers, including working parents, lack access to policies that support healthy families. These problems disproportionately affect people of color and underpaid workers. There are multiple solutions this legislative session to begin fixing these issues, including Paid Family Leave and expanding MinnesotaCare.

 

Paid Family Leave:

The United States is the only advanced economy that doesn’t require paid leave, and it’s time to modernize our workplace standards. Paid leave enhances family health, protects family economic security, reduces reliance on public assistance programs, and benefits employers by lowering turnover, boosting productivity, and enhancing morale.

Watch a video from the Paid Family Leave kickoff.

 

How to Fix It:

 

Expanding MinnesotaCare:

We also are fighting so more working families can have access to good, affordable health insurance. Currently, MinnesotaCare covers more than 100,000 Minnesotans who work hard but still struggle to make ends meet. It is used by employees of small businesses, by entrepreneurs, and by family farmers across the state.

Unfortunately, Minnesotans just above the income cut-off for MinnesotaCare face drastically higher premiums and cost-sharing that prevents far too many from accessing physical and mental health care when they need it, even if they are insured.

 

How We Fix It:

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SEIU Minnesota State Council Statement on Black Lives Matter Minneapolis #Justice4Jamar

Minneapolis, Minn — In regards to the police response to the peaceful Black Lives Matter Minneapolis #Justice4Jamar actions in North Minneapolis, the SEIU Minnesota State Council released the following statement:

“Many SEIU members and staff have been spending time at the 4th Precinct over the last few days in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Minneapolis protesters who are fighting for justice in Minneapolis. This situation, and particularly the actions taken by the police on Wednesday, made it clear that there is an incredibly troubling imbalance in power in Minneapolis. Until that fact changes, we will continue to be in the streets for peaceful protests with our sisters and brothers from Black Lives Matter Minneapolis.

“SEIU members endorsed and were some of the strongest supporters in getting Mayor Hodges elected, in no small part because of her commitment to closing our city’s awful racial inequalities. For that commitment to have a chance of becoming a reality, Mayor Hodges must engage directly to deescalate the current situation brought on by the police and reengage in productive dialogue with Black Lives Matter Minneapolis to solve not only this situation, but the gnawing racial divides tormenting our city. We believe this moment is an essential test of whether our city moves forward as one, or the cracks of inequality and injustice split wide open. We need leadership of the Mayor more than ever, and we look to support the Mayor in taking immediate action to support those calling for justice.

“We are especially concerned about Chief Harteau’s decision to escalate on a peaceful protest starting Wednesday afternoon. Not only did this not help resolve the situation, it made matters worse and has increased tension and division in our community. If her goal was to open the police station, it has backfired. If her goal was to end the peaceful protest of those exercising their first amendment rights, the opposite has happened. Her decision to crack down on peaceful protesters not only inflames this situation, but it moves us further away from finding real solutions to the problems plaguing our community. These uncalled-for actions only reiterate the feeling among many that their voices are silenced and their concerns are not legitimate. Chief Harteau can and must use this situation to radically rethink her strategy of policing people of color in Minneapolis, especially in North Minneapolis.

“We commend the young people of color who are leading Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, both in this action and in their overall work, so our city finally can have the conversation we need to be having about race and inequality. We urge our city leaders to hear their voices.”

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SEIU is the workers who provide care and support for your family in public schools, hospitals, higher education, nursing homes, schools, in your homes and the Twin Cities’ largest public and private buildings. The SEIU Minnesota State Council coordinates the electoral, legislative and outreach work of the SEIU Locals in Minnesota to increase the effectiveness of their collective bargaining and new member organizing campaigns. By building the political involvement of the approximately 60,000 SEIU members throughout the state, the State Council is working to improve the lives of all Minnesotans. The State Council’s board is comprised of elected leaders, members, and staff of the four SEIU Local Unions in Minnesota.

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SEIU Minnesota State Council call on Bloomington City Attorney to Drop Charges Against #BlackLivesMatter Activists

The following resolution was passed at the SEIU Minnesota State Council Executive Board meeting calling on Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson to drop charges against the 11 #BlackLivesMatter members who were part of the peaceful protest at the Mall of America on December 20, 2014:

 Having the right to take part in peaceful, non-violent protest is an essential part of any Democracy. Throughout history, many important victories have been won because brave women and men were willing to raise their voices and push back against the status quo. Any attempts to chill free speech will harm us all.

 At a time of staggering racial inequalities, the #BlackLivesMatter movement is using their voices to shine a light on structural racism in our society and the harm it causes to families: the physical, economic, emotional and spiritual damage to our sisters and brothers here in Minnesota and across the country.

 The decision by Bloomington City Attorney Sandra Johnson to prosecute protest organizers is wrong. We should be having thoughtful dialogue on how to close the painful racial inequalities that plague our communities, not spending time criminalizing peaceful protesters. We urge Sandra Johnson to do the right thing and drop the charges against these peaceful activists.

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Workers Praise Senate Passage of Women’s Economic Security Act

Highlight positive impacts for working families in Minnesota

Saint Paul, Minn ­– SEIU members praised the Minnesota Senate’s passage of the Women’s Economic Security Act Wednesday, highlighting the positive benefits for women and all working families in Minnesota. A majority of SEIU members in the state of Minnesota are women, and workers recognized this bill as an important step, highlighting work to close the gender pay gap, protect women from discrimination in the workplace, and help improve retirement security for workers across our state. (more…)

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As Governor Dayton Signs Bill, Workers Join Minnesotans Across the State In Applauding Passage of Minimum Wage Increase

SAINT PAUL, MN –Today, as Governor Dayton signed into law the bill to raise the minimum wage in Minnesota to $9.50 by 2016 and index it to inflation, workers praised lifting the pay floor in Minnesota as a step forward for families in our state, but acknowledged that there is still much work to do. Recognizing the hundreds of thousands of workers who will receive an raise and the benefit this will bring to our communities, workers praised the coalition who fought for the win and the legislative champions who made it happen. (more…)

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House Passage of Women’s Economic Security Act Praised As Step Forward for Working Families

SEIU Members highlight work on retirement security

SAINT PAUL, Minn –SEIU members praised the passage of the Women’s Economic Security Act in the Minnesota House Wednesday as a great step in helping working families in our state, recognizing that when women and families do better, our whole state does better. Among the numerous strong provisions in the bill, members expressed particular interest in continuing to fight for a state-administered retirement plan that will be studied by this bill.  (more…)

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SEIU Leaders Congratulate Council Member Glidden on Bush Fellowship, Call on City Council to Address Racial Inequities

Minneapolis, Minn. – Members and leaders of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in the Twin Cities are pleased to hear that Minneapolis City Council Member Elizabeth Glidden has been selected as a Bush Fellow for 2013. The news comes as a new crop of city councilors prepare to take office, after Minneapolis voters elected a historically young and racially diverse set of representatives.

Elizabeth Glidden Headshot_rs

Minneapolis City Councilor, Elizabeth Glidden

“Our members are keenly aware of the racial disparities that divide our city,” said Javier Morillo, President of SEIU Local 26. “We see those disparities in employment, wages, and housing throughout Minneapolis. They supported Council Member Glidden in her reelection bid because they know her commitment to addressing these racial disparities. We’re proud to see the Bush Fellowship Program recognize her for that commitment as well.”

“We are excited for this unique opportunity for the Minneapolis City Council,” said Jamie Gulley, President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota. “This fellowship will allow the entire city council to address each issue through a race equity lens so we can work together to achieve a fairer, more equitable city. Council Member Glidden has proven her leadership when it comes to bringing the whole community together to find solutions to reducing disparities. We congratulate her on this continued commitment.”

“It’s encouraging to see Council Member Glidden and the Minneapolis City Council taking such a strong, proactive stance on implementing a race equity agenda,” said Carol Nieters, Executive Director of SEIU Local 284. “Our members who work in the Minneapolis public schools see the impact of the achievement gap day after day. Those gaps extend far beyond the classroom walls, and we are heartened by the investment from the Bush Foundation in the City of Minneapolis.”

 

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SEIU is the workers who provide care and support for your family in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and the Twin Cities’ largest public and private buildings. The SEIU Minnesota State Council coordinates the electoral, legislative and outreach work of the SEIU Locals in Minnesota to increase the effectiveness of their collective bargaining and new member organizing campaigns. By building the political involvement of approximately 30,000 SEIU members throughout the state, the State Council is working to improve the lives of all Minnesotans. The State Council’s board is comprised of elected leaders, members, and staff of the four SEIU Local Unions in Minnesota.

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Minnesota Commemorates 50th Anniversary of March On Washington

Congressman Ellison leads Minnesota March as citizens continue the fight for jobs, freedom and justice

St. Paul, Minn. – As the sun beat down on the Minnesota State Capitol on Wednesday, nearly 200 Minnesotans raised their voices in song, prayer and celebration, just as thousands did at the March on Washington this same day in 1963.

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Rep. Keith Ellison (DFL-Minneapolis) addressing March On Washington Anniversary attendees at Minnesota Capitol.

“Fifty years ago, men and women of every race, creed and religion gathered on our National Mall to declare that the scourge of discrimination could not overpower a nation dedicated to equality and freedom,” said Rep. Keith Ellison. “They asked our country to keep the promises made in the Constitution. The problems we face today may seem different, but we are fighting for the same goal: equality for all. The bravery shown by those who came before us fuels our drive towards progress and for that we thank each and every one of them.”

U.S. Representative Keith Ellison addressed the crowd gathered at the South Mall of the Minnesota State Capitol, following a mile-long march from Boyd Park in St. Paul. Rep. Ellison spoke about the need to increase the minimum wage as a way to address disparities in wages across the country. The minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, was $9.45 in 1963. Today, it’s $7.25 nationally and $6.15 in Minnesota.

It was one of many issues addressed at Wednesday’s commemoration, which was organized by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) African-American caucus, the AFRAM Minnesota Chapter. All across the country, citizens celebrated the 50th anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s historic civil rights march. In Minnesota, social and economic justice groups including the St. Paul NAACP joined SEIU-AFRAM and Rep. Ellison to continue the fight for jobs, freedom and justice.

“There are still many obstacles we need to overcome to realize Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s vision of a more just society,” said Tee McClenty, Executive Vice President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota and member of SEIU AFRAM. “There are racial disparities in education, employment, and wages. We need a just system that protects all of its citizens.”

“Faced with a broken immigration system that tears apart families and allows employers to abuse and exploit workers, we, as a country, still have a long way to go to achieve the vision of a more equal society,” said Abraham Kone, SEIU Local 26 member. “America has a chance to honor the lessons of the civil rights movement by passing true, commonsense immigration reform that will allow millions of aspiring Americans to walk the path to citizenship and become full members of our democracy. Congress must act now because without reform, millions of immigrants will be relegated to a permanent underclass.”

“The March we honor today was a major event as our nation seeks to navigate the stormy seas of racism to land on the shores of justice,” said Carol Nieters, SEIU Local 284 Executive Director. “The legacy of the march on Washington was to give us the moral compass we need for this journey. We are not there yet. At SEIU, our mission is to ‘improve people’s lives and lead the way to a more just society.’ The role of the labor movement must be to help chart the way through waters still roiled by the injustice of great wealth in the hands of the few and great struggle in the lives of the many. For if we do not have a just economy, we do not have justice.”

The program included speeches, prayer and song, in addition to the reading of the historic “I Have A Dream” speech by 11-year-old Cherrish Maxon.

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SEIU is the workers who provide care and support for your family in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and the Twin Cities’ largest public and private buildings. The SEIU Minnesota State Council coordinates the electoral, legislative and outreach work of the SEIU Locals in Minnesota to increase the effectiveness of their collective bargaining and new member organizing campaigns. By building the political involvement of approximately 30,000 SEIU members throughout the state, the State Council is working to improve the lives of all Minnesotans. The State Council’s board is comprised of elected leaders, members, and staff of the four SEIU Local Unions in Minnesota.

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