The workers that clean and protect corporate buildings throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn. are employed by major multibillion dollar corporations including Target, Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank, but many of these janitors and security guards earn only the state minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
These wages are far below a decent living wage needed to keep families out of poverty.
According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Living Wage Calculator, a single person would need to make $9.11 per hour in the state of Minnesota in order to make a living wage, a calculation for a decent standard of living based on the cost for food, transportation, housing and other basic expenses.
The issue also concerns employers decisions to move many workers to part-time work, a common trend across America.“I think that this is a story that a lot of people across can related to. They want to move people from fulltime to part time work, shirking their responsibilities to provide healthcare,” added Morillo.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 371,000 workers represented by unions in Minnesota. With 15 percent of the workforce unionized, Minnesota stands well above the national average, a paltry 11.3 percent according to recent reports. This marks are record 100-year low in union membership.
Union activism may be surging in the Twin Cities, however, the action bucks national trends as state legislators continue to show bipartisan support for right to work legislation in an attempt to crush union organizing and collective bargaining.
There are now 24 states with right to work legislation in the U.S., a sign that union organizing is diminishing in strength across the the country. Michigan, home to 700,000 union workers became the latest state to pass right to work legislation December 2012, limiting the right of workers to collectively bargain.
Representatives from the AFL-CIO and the United Auto Workers (UAW) vow to carry on the fight to repeal the legislation by organizing voters in the lead up to the 2014 midterm elections. Union representatives hope to usher in new, labor-friendly representatives who will overturn the law.
Earlier this month, the state of New Hampshire became the latest state to introduce right-to-work legislation. New Hampshire House Bill (H.B.) 322 is supported by major industries and corporate executives claiming that the right to work will draw new industry to the state. Right-to-work states have attracted new industry because corporations can pay lower wages and extend fewer benefits when unions are denied the right to collectively bargain.
If successful, the current strike in Minnesota will help secure a better standard of living for thousands of workers and their families. Although important for low income workers, this strike is moderate in size compared to recent strikes by other unions in the U.S.
The Chicago Teachers Union representing 29,000 educators went on strike for two weeks September 2012. The teachers confronted Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s corporatist education agenda, reducing reliance upon standardized tests while securing a 17.6 percent pay raise over the next four years.
Hey, you said strikes didn't get folks paid ???
Looks like 4% per year, to ME ~!