Press Release for 15 on the Ballot


June 27, 2016

Contact: Becky Dernbach,, 717-329-5092

               Ginger Jentzen,, 612-382-9912

               Stephanie Gasca,, 612-203-4694

National and local experts unveil legal basis for $15 minimum wage in Minneapolis

Full legal memo available here.

Fact sheet, “Minneapolis Residents are Authorized to Enact a Local $15 Minimum Wage by Charter Amendment,” available here.

On a press conference call Monday, national and local experts unveiled a memo detailing the legal basis for a $15 minimum wage in Minneapolis.



“Minneapolis has the opportunity to tackle years of declining wages by joining the growing number of cities and states that have adopted a $15 minimum wage. Legal analysis shows that Minneapolis residents have a right to place a $15 minimum wage on November’s ballot and that, if challenged, the courts would uphold such a measure,” said Laura Huizar, staff attorney with the National Employment Law Project.

The memo explains Minneapolis has the power to enact a local minimum wage, and residents of charter cities like Minneapolis can add charter amendments through petition as long as there are no state or local laws that preclude the amendment. Indeed, the city is legally required to put a proposed charter amendment that meets signature requirements on the ballot as long as it does not conflict with state or local law. Neither state nor local law limits charter amendments so as to preclude a charter amendment establishing a local minimum wage.


“The only time a City can veto a proposed charter amendment is when it blatantly violates the constitution or state law. Fifteen Now’s proposed charter amendment does neither, so the City must place it on the next ballot,” said Karen Marty, a Minnesota lawyer, former city attorney and charter law expert.


Marty and Huizar noted that that the majority of courts around the country that have considered whether a city can enact a local minimum wage have upheld those local laws unless they have been explicitly or impliedly preempted by state law. Minnesota law does not preclude a local minimum wage.


Workers who have been organizing for a $15 minimum wage applauded the release of the legal memo as another tool and step toward a living wage for all Minneapolis workers.


“Fast food workers have been organizing in the workplace and in the streets to gain support to raise the minimum wage,” said Steven Suffridge, a McDonald’s worker organizing with CTUL. “I haven’t been able to save money to go visit my family in almost a decade because making nine dollars an hour doesn’t allow me to save. It is barely enough to make ends meet. Raising the minimum wage would help us emotionally, physically, and mentally. We could be healthier and happier. We will continue to fight until we get $15 here in Minneapolis, and we are very close.”


Marcellina Reis, a restaurant server and member of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, has been collecting petition signatures for a $15 minimum wage. Nearly 20,000 petition signatures have been collected to date, three times the number required to put the question on the ballot.

“I support a $15 minimum wage because it will directly affect many of the problems in equity Minneapolis has as well as create a more prosperous and positive community for everyone. Currently, more and more people have to work ridiculous hours at multiple jobs which in many cases leaves no guarantee they will even have enough to get by. It also doesn’t allow them time to function like human beings,” said Marcellina. “Having little to no time to build family, community, and find happiness creates physical and mental health damage and brings our society down, not only affecting those struggling to live but everyone in Minneapolis. When we as a city are able to vote on this, we can pass a $15 minimum wage together, and keep shaping the path to equity for all.”

Full legal memo available here.

Fact sheet, “Minneapolis Residents are Authorized to Enact a Local $15 Minimum Wage by Charter Amendment,” available here.