An Open Letter . . .
TO: Governor Mark Dayton and the Minnesota Democratic Farmer-Labor Party Legislative Caucus.
FROM: Your Constituents
Enough! We are not waiting any longer!
As DFL candidates, you campaigned on a promise to enact legislation that provides low-wage workers a real,living wage — not just a “minimum” wage.
Your campaign language explicitly called for “workers being entitled to living wages!” It promised a Living Wage Act, but no progress was made in your first super-majority session.
All it would take, you said, was for Minnesotans to give the DFL a super-majority. Well, we voters delivered it to you! You have it! But now, instead of advancing Living Wage legislation, the DFL is floating another “minimum wage” bill that will just perpetuate poverty wages for many Minnesota workers!
For years, the DFL leadership has claimed Republicans were the lone obstacle to establishing a Living Wage in our state. That obstacle has been removed. You are now in the driver’s seat!
We, the workers of Minnesota, gave you the legislative votes to enact the Living Wage legislation you promised us.
We expect you now to do so. You could call it “The Minnesota Living Wage Act of 2014.”
Most importantly, we need to begin with a realistic dollar amount. Living Wages need to be calculated based on realistic levels of cost-of-living. U.S. Census data suggests at least $15 per hour; while, based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), hourly wages of $22 and $26 at 40 hrs/week are needed to cover basic necessities. When making decisions on determining basic needs for a dignified life, the testimony from low-income Minnesotans should also be taken into consideration.
A Living Wage must also be subject to regular cost-of-living adjustments. The Consumer Price Index is our best indicator, and it should be used to adjust a new Minnesota Living Wage level quarterly or at least semi-annually.
If you should fail to enact such legislation, we will assume that you were just baiting us with nice-sounding campaign rhetoric, and that you are pulling a switch on us by simply advancing more employer-friendly “minimum wage” legislation, that does nothing to alleviate the hardships of Minnesota’s working poor.
Perhaps you think any increase is better than nothing. We don’t!
Minnesota has long been considered a progressive bellwether. Do something significant now for her working men and women. It is what everybody morally deserves — the prospect of a dignified life.
Be courageous. Lead our state — and our nation — in securing the right of every worker to earn a decent living.
It can begin with the Minnesota Living Wage Act of 2014.
You can make it happen!
Your fellow Minnesotans
(as the undersigned, with our signatures attached herein)