The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

The Student News Site of Macalester College

The Mac Weekly

On Bernie and the Fight for $15

On March 1, thousands of Minnesotans declared their support for Bernie Sanders at the DFL caucuses. With massive turnout, Sanders decisively carried each of the state’s eight congressional districts, garnering support from younger and lower-income voters. Though the Vermont senator had packed rallies in the Twin Cities since last spring, losses to Hillary Clinton in southern states revealed the importance of a victory in Minnesota toward retaining momentum. As a vocal Sanders supporter, I was very excited to find myself in good company on Super Tuesday.

Bernie’s campaign has helped to bring inequality into the national political conversation. By arguing for an end to starvation wages, Sanders proposes a federal minimum wage of $15 as a cornerstone of his economic and social platform. It is my hope that the outpouring of excitement demonstrated on caucus night for Sanders-style progressive policies can be harnessed in the Minneapolis Fight for $15.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, over the past four decades, CEO pay has skyrocketed by nearly 1000 percent. At the same time, middle and low-wage workers in the United States have seen their earnings stagnate or decline, even as the workers themselves have become increasingly productive. With rising inequality, many workers have taken on more hours and jobs to make ends meet.

Still, in Minnesota, a minimum-wage worker must clock 68 hours per week to afford the cost of rent for a one-bedroom unit alone. Furthermore, inability to provide food and other basic necessities leads many workers to enroll in public assistance programs at taxpayers’ expense.

The Minnesota chapter of 15 Now, the nationwide grassroots campaign for workers’ rights, argues for boosting paychecks for 38 percent of Minneapolis workers and stimulating the local economy. Raising the city’s wage would be a big step toward racial and gender equity.

However, in response to the city council’s inaction on the Working Families Agenda last fall, the Fight for $15 has proceeded to the ballot box. One poll found as many as 82 percent of voters favor raising the city’s wage to $15. A local coalition of civil rights and labor groups have backed the initiative.

Last year, Macalester Students against Income Inequality held a student assembly addressing the many workers at Macalester who struggle to get by with low wages.

At 11:30 a.m. on April 7, 15 Now MN will host a panel discussion in the Harmon Room to look at the future of the minimum wage movement in Minneapolis. Panelists will discuss lessons from the Fight for $15 in California, Seattle, New York and beyond.

In order to join the political revolution, Macalester’s Bernie supporters should definitely show up to learn more about how we can make a $15 minimum wage a reality for Minneapolis. The rent won’t wait.

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