MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hundreds of non-union workers took to Minneapolis streets Thursday morning to protest for fair wages.
They were joined by supporters from the community, asking corporations to do their part in ending the racial and economic disparities in Minnesota.
Protestors blocked traffic coming into downtown Minneapolis, causing backups for nearly an hour. Protestors hope their actions got the attention of corporations.
Non-union workers met outside Macy’s on Nicollet Mall to demand better pay and working conditions.
These retail janitors work for contracted companies, cleaning stores like Macy’s, Kohl’s and Sears.
Marcela Flores is not on strike but was in the crowd to support fellow janitors.
“Once we were there we realized how much support we actually have of the community and everyone behind us,” Flores said via an interpreter.
She says protesters blocking traffic during a busy morning commute was not a planned event.
“Our idea today wasn’t to block the highways. Our idea was to expose the crisis … and the unfair conditions we are forced to live, so that our message can get to the corporation,” she said.
The Minnesota State Patrol was called in to deal with the miles-long traffic backup. Traffic management cameras captured frustrated drivers in their cars, with the highway looking more like a parking lot for about an hour.
These non-union workers were not alone. People from the community were also in the crowd to support the cause.
Javier Morillo says the protest sends a strong message to Minnesota corporations, some of the wealthiest in the country, about paying people a living wage.
“Workers everywhere across this country are raising their voices and the community is hearing it,” Morillo said. “It’s time to share the wealth … The community office real estate right now, vacancies are low, the rental rate are high and workers across the country are winning along these lines and we’re just here to say if not now, when?”
Non-union workers say they were inspired to protest Thursday by SEIU Local 26 janitors, who held a one-day strike Wednesday for better wages.