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MN Group To Black Friday Shoppers: Visit Retailers Who Pay Living Wage

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — With Black Friday approaching, low prices may be your top priority, but a Minnesota group wants you to consider spending a little more at certain local shops.

The campaign, by Minnesota 2020, coincides with efforts to raise the state’s minimum wage to $9.50 an hour by 2015.

“This week, people are going to flock to a lot of stores in the Black Friday rush,” Minnesota 2020 communications director Joe Sheeran said. “Unfortunately, a lot of those stores pay well below Minnesota’s proposed new minimum wage and well below what we consider poverty level.”

Minnesota 2020 says holiday season consumers should try to shop at retailers that pay living wages.

“We can’t have large segments of that population working at poverty levels if we want to see the economy grow,” Minnesota 2020 fellow Lee Egerstrom said.

Minnesota 2020’s Made In Minnesota report shows retailers like Walmart, Target, and Macys pay their frontline workers below the poverty level. Moss Envy in uptown is one of the retailers behind the movement for small businesses to take a stand.

“When you can raise that wage, happier workers work harder for you,” Moss Envy owner Ryan North said.

So, when it comes to shopping based on savings versus values, which would you pick?

“It all has to do with deals,” shopper Zaheer Qurshi said. “Whoever offers the best deal, that’s where the people are going to go.”

“People deserve a living wage no matter what your job is, so, yes, you should do your research,” Ken Kaskela said.

Minnesota 2020 says it isn’t asking consumers to boycott brands, but to educate themselves by calling retailers to find out their policies with their employees.

A few questions they suggest asking:

1. Do they pay their employees at least 9.50 an hour?
2. Do they offer affordable insurance?
3. Are there paid vacation and sick days?
4. Lastly, are the majority of workers full time?

A spokesperson for Target, Macy’s, and Walmart could not be reached for comment. A spokesperson for Best Buy had no comment.

The Minnesota legislature will take up the issue of raising the minimum wage in the next legislative session in 2014.

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