Demonstrators blocked several downtown Minneapolis intersections Thursday morning as part of a week of activities focused on higher wages, corporate responsibility and end to income disparities.
The day began with a strike by non-union janitors, members of CTUL, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha/Center of Workers United in Struggle, who clean retail stores such as Macy’s. They were joined in picketing by a number of elected officials, including Minneapolis City Council Vice President Elizabeth Glidden.
Workers are calling on cleaning companies “to open sincere dialogue regarding fair wages and ending wage theft in the industry.” On Tuesday, CTUL announced a $425,000 settlement in a lawsuit by workers who alleged they were cheated out of pay by Capital Building Group Services, a cleaning contractor for Macy’s and Herberger’s stores.
Thursday’s demonstration was organized by Minnesotans for a Fair Economy.
“While Minnesota houses some of the wealthiest corporations in the country it also houses some of the worst racial and economic disparities in the nation,” said MFE Director Donna Cassutt. “Minnesota’s largest corporations harm communities of color when they pay poverty wages, don’t invest in our schools by paying their fair share, and practice toxic banking practices that pollute our environment and extract wealth from our communities. These corporations have the ability to powerfully impact our communities if they stand up and do the right thing by paying a living wage.”
The protest capped a week of action by low-wage workers that included a rolling series of strikes by 4,000 janitors represented by Service Employees International Union Local 26 and a rally by parents, students and community members in support of St. Paul public school teachers as they engage in contract talks.
On Tuesday, more than 100 religious leaders, clergy, environmental activists and community members gathered in front of US Bank headquarters in downtown Minneapolis to launch a campaign urging individuals and institutions to move their money out of US Bank.
They said the effort is aimed at getting US Bank to end these practices:
- Financing predatory payday lenders who trap low-income communities of color in cycles of debt.
- Funding dangerous tar sands oil pipelines and fossil fuel extraction that threaten our water, climate and Indigenous communities.
- Engaging in unsound foreclosure practices that disproportionately affect families of color, disrupting children's education and broadening an already significant racial achievement gap.