26 ARRESTED AS NEARLY 1,000 MARCH IN ST. PAUL ON BLACK FRIDAY CALLING FOR AN END TO POVERTY WAGES IN MINNESOTA
On the busiest shopping day of the year, nearly 1,000 workers and allies took to the streets calling for corporations and state legislators to raise wages for workers
MINNEAPOLIS (Nov. 29) — 26 workers and allies were arrested practicing non-violent civil disobedience as nearly 1,000 marched in St. Paul calling on corporations and state legislators to end poverty wages in Minnesota on a day that saw thousands of protests around the country. The march capped a Black Friday week of action in Minnesota that saw a strike in Brooklyn Center by Walmart associates and another in Minneapolis by retail cleaners employed by contractors to clean stores like Target, along with protests at a St. Cloud temp agency and at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.
“For too long, we have seen the rich get richer while working families get less and less. We’re sick and tired of this,” said Leroy Graham, employee of Diversified Maintenance cleaning a Target store and a member of Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha (CTUL), a Twin Cities workers center. “We are the ones who make Black Friday happen, yet we suffer through poverty wages and disrespect. That is why today I am standing with dozens of other workers and allies and participating in a non-violent act of civil disobedience to raise awareness about this crisis.”
The protest captured the rising tide of frustration that, despite years of work and robust support across the state to raise wages, conditions in many regards are worse than ever for a growing number of Minnesotans. Many of the jobs in the “new economy” have low pay, minimal benefits and little stability. Of workers who make under $9.50 per hour, 77% are 20 and over and 73% have at least a high school diploma. Over 137,000 Minnesota children have parents who make less than that amount.
“We are fed up. We follow the rules and work hard, yet we are still paid low wages and have to consistently fight for respect at work. It is time for corporations and state legislators to end poverty wages and give Minnesota workers the raise that they deserve,” said Michael Ahles, an OurWalmart member who works at the Sauke Center Walmart.
Marching along University Avenue in St. Paul, the crowd stopped to highlight corporations like Walmart that made over $20 billion dollars during the 2012 Black Friday weekend. Despite these numbers, corporations keep workers trapped in poverty while, according to recent reports, taking billions from taxpayers to subsidize the low wages they pay their employees.