Twin Cities Retail workers protest wages, scheduling

Retail workers call for higher wages

MINNEAPOLIS -- Retail workers looked to pick up some empathy from Black Friday shoppers Friday, staging fair wage protests on the Nicollet Mall and at a Walmart store in St. Paul.

Several dozen protesters rallied outside the Macy's store, demanding paid sick leave, more predictable scheduling and a $15 per hour minimum wage.

"My coworkers are experiencing major issues everyday," Kevin H., a retail worker involved in the Working America movement, said.

"It could be my coworker who came in the other day sort of walking like a zombie, because his back's so messed up, because he's working two jobs, because he can't take a day off to take care of himself."

The Minneapolis City Council in late October tabled the Working Families agenda, which included paid sick leave and mandatory scheduling rules. A study group made up of business and labor leaders is currently seeking some common ground, which may lead to a revised sick leave policy.

"We're always hearing that if our wages go up, then prices are going to go up," David Rosenfeld, who works at Walmart. "But really the problem is when the wages go up their profits will go down. That's why they're fighting against this."

The group eventually marched down 7th Street into the IDS Center Crystal Court, and moved up the escalators into the pedestrian skyways chanting "Hey hey, ho ho, poverty wages have got to go."

Protester Tecara Monn said she worked in restaurants for 25 years, before taking a position in the Minneapolis Public Schools. She also works part-time for Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, which supports the fair wage effort.

"This is my first year in 20 years that I did not have to work a holiday and I felt blessed to sit at the table and cut turkey and break bread with my kids," Tecara Monn told the crowd.

Some of the shoppers mocked the chant, yelling back, "Hey hey, ho ho, silly protesters have got to go."

One child watching the march asked his mother why there was a boy carrying a sign.

"Because his dad works hard all day, but still can't pay the bills," the woman to the youngster.

While many shoppers hit malls and stores on Black Friday, retail workers, janitors and their supporters protested what they call a low wage and unfair scheduling.

The events were organized by Working America-Minnesota, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL) and Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC)



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