Demonstrators march in Minneapolis for workers' rights

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More than 300 people demonstrated in downtown Minneapolis Wednesday afternoon to call attention to what they say are poor working conditions for hourly employees.

According to WCCO, the group briefly took over a skyway branch of U.S. Bank, then marched to City Hall to urge city officials to pass laws that would require paid sick time, more predictable scheduling and a higher minimum wage for hourly workers.

The demonstration was organized by community groups including Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC).

Several speakers described how difficult it can be to work at a job that offers no paid sick leave and has unpredictable scheduling, according to the Star Tribune.

One speaker, Rod Adams, told the crowd he couldn't take a sick day off from his restaurant job even after he cut his hand with a kitchen knife.

A recent survey of more than 500 north Minneapolis residents conducted by NOC illustrates other issues as well.

  • More than half the workers surveyed (55 percent) said they receive their work schedules a week or less in advance.
  • 25 percent said their unpredictable schedules made it difficult to go to school or get a second job.
  • 68 percent said their work schedules change week to week.
  • 70 percent of those who got at least a week's notice of their schedules were required to be available to work any time the business is in operation, day or night.
  • 60 percent receive no paid sick time.

(The full survey results are available here.)

The marchers eventually went inside City Hall, beating drums and chanting. About half a dozen City Council members joined them, saying they support the call for action to protect the rights of hourly employees.

Advocates have organized several public campaigns in recent months to call attention to the difficulties facing low-income workers.

Last month they were successful in convincing the Metropolitan Airports Commission to approve a $10 minimum wage for all employees at the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport, in particular those who clean airplanes, drive electric carts and push wheelchairs.

One ongoing effort seeks to raise wages for many jobs to $15 an hour.

Minnesota's minimum wage will rise to $9 per hour for most companies on Aug. 1.

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