On Tuesday November 2nd 2021 Minneapolis voters have the chance to change the course of our city’s history— to vote to change the charter to make necessary changes to the Minneapolis Police Department and to vote for rent stabilization to ensure we are all home to stay in our communities. When workers’ rights are protected, when rent is truly affordable, when all our communities are safe from the threat of police violence—that’s what makes our communities safe and able to truly prosper.
Last month, CTUL board member Lexi Collins spoke at a Yes4Minneapolis press conference where she spoke about growing up on the Northside of Minneapolis and her experience as a frontline essential worker as a cashier at a gas station. When emergencies arise, Lexi has few options but to call the police, leaving her, her co-workers, and the community at greater threat. In an interview with WorkDayMN, Lexi states that “We have a lot of customers that are not meaning to be rough but if they’re going through substance abuse, I tend not to call the police a lot just because I fear for my community. Police are not trained to deal with them. Their lives still matter.”
In an interview with Prism, CTUL member and organizer Eric Willis said that “Here in Minneapolis, we only have a few city employees focusing on wage theft with as many cops as we have…We need to take a look at the budget and where our priorities are”. According to an article by the Center for Public Integrity, studies show that more wealth is stolen through wage theft than all of the robberies and petty street theft combined.
In an op-ed for the Minnesota Reformer, Eric Willis wrote that “No parent should have to work two or three jobs just to take care of their family. No parent should live in fear of a senseless police raid. No parent should be forced to go into work when their kids are sick. We need a city where people can flourish, be free, and be paid a living wage. Whose wealth are we protecting when wages are stolen from workers everyday, but we spend hundreds of millions militarizing the city against the people. The city must address the root problem, and policing cannot do that”.
CTUL urges our community to vote YES on amendment question #2 to change the city charter to allow for the changes we need to make Minneapolis safe for all.
Along with the future of the city charter and public safety, rent stabilization is also on the ballot this year in Minneapolis. During the early days of the pandemic, CTUL members were hit hard. From workplaces closing, to severely reduced hours, to heightened health and safety risks impacting frontline workers, essential workers were sacrificed so that the .1% could continue business as usual and make record profits. Since the pandemic, billionaire’s wealth surged 70%, or $2.1 trillion while essential workers, renters, communities of color, and undocumented immigrants suffered the brunt of the crisis.
In March of 2020, CTUL member Ericka Castro spoke out about her experience of wage theft during the pandemic and how it impacted her ability to afford housing: “I was working in a hotel downtown in Minneapolis when COVID-19 started and closed everything down. There are no jobs, there is no money for rent, and the government aid is not reaching everyone. I am the workforce for this economy. I should have rights because I contribute a lot to this country”.
Housing was cited as one of the main concerns of CTUL members through the pandemic. Although the eviction moratorium allowed for some relief, many knew the relief would only be temporary and that eventually the bills that were piling up would be due. There were very little options for folks months behind on rent and even fewer options for undocumented communities. Housing instability and displacement intensified the existing structural affordable housing crisis in the Twin Cities through the pandemic.
On May Day 2020, CTUL members alongside members from Inquilinxs Unidxs organized a #CancelRent caravan from downtown Minneapolis to the governor’s mansion to demand the cancellation of rent and mortgage payments. While those demands were not met, the rent stabilization amendment on the Minneapolis ballot offers another opportunity to build a future that centers housing justice for everyone in our community.
Rent stabilization in Minneapolis would allow our communities to stay in their homes and communities, without the threat of exorbitant rises in rent that hurt families. Many working families are already spending a majority of their income on rent, leaving very little leftover for food, clothes, bills, education, and leisure. The displacement of families harms our communities and harms families. Rent stabilization would allow our communities to have consistent and stable housing that keeps families together and neighborhoods safe.
On Tuesday November 2nd, we strongly encourage CTUL members and allies to vote YES for amendment question #2 to change the charter and YES for question #3 for rent stabilization in Minneapolis to help build a community where all of us can thrive.
Questions about how or where to vote? Visit https://vote.minneapolismn.gov/
Learn more about Yes 4 Minneapolis here.
Learn more about Rent Stabilization here.