Hodges passes the buck

Mayor Betsy Hodges has come out against the growing campaign for a $15 per hour minimum wage in Minneapolis, and the Minnesota Daily’s Editorial Board expressed its support for Hodges’ stance on the issue. Both argued that a minimum wage increase in Minneapolis would drive businesses to St. Paul or the surrounding suburbs with lower minimum wages.

The reality is that most minimum-wage jobs in the service sector are highly dependent on location. Multi-billion-dollar companies, like McDonald’s or Starbucks, can afford to pay their employees a living wage while still making huge profits, and they would not simply give up prime real estate in a thriving city and abandon the money that still could be made there.

Seattle, San Francisco and other major cities with increased minimum wages all have surrounding suburbs in their metro area that businesses could have flocked to, but we don’t see it happening. Hodges was elected on a progressive racial-equity agenda but opposes a citywide wage increase, despite the fact that Minneapolis has one of the nation’s worst racial wealth gaps — partly because people of color are disproportionately represented in minimum-wage jobs.

A OneMinneapolis study showed that 42 percent of jobs in Minneapolis don’t pay a “family-supporting wage.”

Minneapolis should be a leader on the issue of economic and racial justice, rather than succumb to race-to-the-bottom rhetoric. Groups like 15Now and Socialist Alternative are organizing low-wage workers across Minneapolis to promote a minimum wage of $15 per hour because nobody deserves to live in poverty, and the labors of women and people of color should not be subjected to a wage gap.

Landlords won’t wait for the state or federal lawmakers to get around to passing a livable wage bill before kicking workers out of their homes.