Protesters urge Target to pay more

Two workers’ rights groups rallied for a higher minimum wage in downtown Minneapolis on Wednesday.

Mitchell Yurkowitz

About 50 activists marched through downtown Minneapolis on Wednesday morning, demanding an increase to the state’s minimum wage.

Two workers’ groups — the Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha and Communications Works of America — joined Minneapolis residents to voice their support for bills in the Minnesota State Legislature that would raise the minimum wage. Wednesday’s protest specifically asked Target Corporation to raise its wages and support higher pay across the state.

A few speakers, including a Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport employee, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges and Ward 2 City Councilman Cam Gordon, addressed the crowd briefly before beginning the march.

“I support what you’re doing, and it’s the right thing to do,” Gordon said.

The march began at the Hennepin County Government Center and continued through the downtown skyway system, with stops along the way including the Wells Fargo Center, Target corporate headquarters and the Target retail store on Nicollet Mall.

Protesters chanted in support of raising wages, pointing specifically to Target.

“Target is a huge employer in Minnesota, and we want them to come out in support of raising the minimum wage,” said Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha staff member Veronica Mendez.

When protesters reached the Target store, they raised their fists and walked through silently.

“Our wages are so low, it’s impossible to maintain our families at this wage. … We’re raising our voice because we know we need help to raise the minimum wage,” protester Enrique Martinez, a janitor at the Target store, said through a Spanish translator.

At least two proposals to raise the minimum wage have been introduced to the Legislature. One bill proposes a constitutional amendment that would tie the minimum wage to the cost of living.

The other measure, which has strong support from Gov. Mark Dayton, would raise the rate to $9.50 per hour.

Wednesday’s event was the second of five protests to raise the minimum wage that the Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha has planned. In protests later this week, the organization will call on the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport and Wal-Mart to raise their wages.