Target: Minnesota Representatives Karen Clark, Frank Hornstein, John Lesch, Jason Metsa, and Shannon Savick
Goal: Raise awareness about the inadequacy of the minimum wage
Many state legislatures have struggled recently over bills to raise the minimum wage, and Minnesota is no exception. Its lawmakers, however, might be; their conviction on the issue of raising the minimum wage has led many of them to commit to this year’s Minimum Wage Challenge, in which legislators attempt to survive on the budget of a full-time minimum-wage worker for one week. Minnesota’s state minimum wage is $6.15 per hour, putting it among the lowest in the nation – lower even than the national minimum wage of $7.25, meaning that Minnesota employers must defer to federal law, but even that earns full-time workers only $290 per week before taxes. That gives each of the lawmakers embracing the challenge just $5 for food and $9 for transportation costs per day.
The State Representatives, all from Minnesota’s Demoncratic-Farmer-Labor Party, have already underlined the challenges of stretching that money far enough to feed themselves and travel to and from work. Rep. Frank Hornstein commented to CBS Minnesota, “An orange juice was $1.79. That’s not something that I would normally notice. Making the decision to take the bus today versus taking the car will save me a little money for dinner. For food.”
Not only does this challenge alert the lawmakers themselves to the logistical issues with such a low minimum wage, but it also demands attention from other legislators who have been dragging their feet on raising the wage. Rep. Ryan Winkler, who authored the bill before the House to raise the wage to $9.50, said the challenge is meant “to highlight to Minnesotans the challenge that low-wage workers and minimum-wage workers have in making ends meet in an economy that is producing far too many low-wage jobs, far too few living-wage jobs and is asking millions of people nationwide and hundreds of thousands of Minnesotans to work full time and live in poverty.”
By signing this petition, you are thanking the legislators who are refusing to allow their comfortable jobs to blind them to the suffering of their constituents. You are encouraging them to keep fighting for a minimum wage that allows Minnesotans to live with dignity.
Dear Reps. Hornstein, Clark, Lesch, Metsa, and Savick,
Your participation in the Minimum Wage Challenge is inspiring, not only to other legislators, but to all Americans. The minimum wage stagnation is an injustice that affects many American families, and cannot be allowed to continue. Wages must be adjusted for inflation to allow all Americans to support themselves and their families with dignity.
Thank you for undertaking the Minimum Wage Challenge to show Minnesotans and all Americans that surviving on the current minimum wage, even as an individual without a family to support, is an impossibility. I encourage you to continue protesting against a minimum wage that forces Americans to take desperate measures just to support themselves.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: The All-Nite Images via Flickr