Kandace Montgomery’s father has worked since he dropped out of school in the 8th grade. “He’s never had a paid sick day in his life. He’s never made $15 an hour in his life. And now he’s about to turn 50 and he’s homeless,” Montgomery said drawing a smattering of boos from the crowd gathered at Minneapolis City Hall to rally for a $15 an hour minimum wage.
“This is not a country that’s living up to its promises. When a 50-year-old black man who has worked every single day since he was 14-years-old can’t even afford to pay rent, something is wrong with the equation that corporations have concocted for us.”
Montgomery’s story was one of many tales of worker woe heard on Tuesday. The city hall rally capped a day of demonstrations in Minneapolis by cooks, cashiers, janitors and other lower paid fast-food workers. Union organizers say about 100 workers in Minneapolis walked off their jobs at about 70 stores. It was part of a nationwide strike that organizers say happened in 270 U.S. cities.
A higher minimum wage is slowly gaining some traction in Minneapolis. Recently the city council voted to spend $150,000 for a study on the impact of a citywide or regional wage increase. However the council voted down a proposal requiring employers to provide paid sick time and give employees more notification on schedule changes after several businesses complained about it.
Tuesday’s rally was meant as a message to the city council and other politicians that fast-food workers, janitors, and other low-wage employees could be an important voting bloc this next election. Union organizers are targeting presidential “battle ground” states such as Ohio, Florida and Virginia in hopes of influencing the minimum wage debate on a national level.