UniteHere! Local 17


Twin Cities Hospitality Union


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Recently in the city of Minneapolis there has been much attention given to lower wage workers and the conditions of employment under which they work. Mayor Hodges, the City Council, and a coalition of community organizations had good intentions with the goals they tried to achieve, but were met with much resistance. The Star Tribune reported that large and small businesses were vehemently against the proposal calling it unworkable and overreaching. It also reported that many workers in the Hospitality Industry, particularly servers, did not support parts of the proposal regarding “fair scheduling”.

There are real, tangible and problematic issues that exist in the hospitality, retail, grocery, building services industries, and others. So what is the best answer to address the issues of terms and conditions of employment? Collective Bargaining, as recognized in the city’s initial proposal to have a “Union Opt Out” provision. When workers get together and organize they can effectively address the specific issues at their workplace and thereby force an entire industry to raise its standards. The one size fits all approach, although honorable in its desire, was just plain old wrongheaded.

Minneapolis and the state of Minnesota definitely need to address things that they can do to improve conditions for lower wage workers—better transit, enforcement of OSHA and other safety laws and a substantial increase of inspectors at Wage and Hour to handle issues like wage theft claims. Presently there are as few as FIVE inspectors for the entire state of Minnesota. City and state officials could also address racial economic disparities in employment by looking to truly understand what all of the complex reasons are that cause these disparities to exist. Only then can we realistically work to make meaningful, well thought out approaches to try and correct those disparities.

The best answer for changing the employment conditions of lower wage workers is to organize a Union. Workers, when organized, do not need broad sweeping legislative actions to cover their conditions of employment. A Union Contract not only negotiates fair wages and better benefits such as Paid Time Off (PTO), but addresses many issues at a workplace including scheduling, staffing, and respect on the job. A Collective Bargaining Agreement codifies them in a legally binding contractual Agreement that has enforcement mechanisms enshrined in that Agreement as well as a grievance and resolution process. The elected leaders in our city and state could better put their progressive chops into supporting conditions in which workers organize a union. Minneapolis, for example, could update its “Living Wage Ordinance.” It could also broaden its “Labor Peace Ordinance” to include industries mentioned above. Changes to both of these ordinances could not only be done quickly and easily, but without all of the controversy and objections faced by the recent attempt at helping low wage earners.

Union workers nationally get 1/3 more in wages and benefits than their nonunion counterparts. In Minneapolis, we believe that the ratio is a higher figure than that. The membership of our union, UNITE HERE Local 17, is a majority of women, African Americans, other people of color, and recent immigrants. Women who are union members get the same rate of pay as their male counterparts. Union workers are 75% more likely to have affordable or even Employer paid health insurance, as many of the members of our union enjoy. Union members are part of a democratic organization in which they have a voice, while also having a voice in their workplace. Organizing workers to stand up for themselves and making their specific workplaces a better, safer and fairer place to work should be the goal.

The hospitality industry in Minneapolis is booming. There are many available jobs, and the industry needs workers. The issues presented by the City for legislative action can largely be addressed by greater Unionization of the workforce. Give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime.

Nancy Goldman

President, UNITE HERE Local 17

Martin Goff

UNITE HERE Minnesota State Organizing Director

The Union representing hospitality workers

More Work with Less Workers Means Increased Injury Rates

It is no secret that the hospitality industry is coming back after several difficult years, but what does that mean for the workers in this industry?

With higher workloads and fewer workers, not everyone is benefiting fully. Profits that are coming in to the hotels are coming on the backs of workers.

Click here to read full article on MN 2020
Hotel Profitability Coming at Workers’ Expense

  Minnesota House concurred with the Minnesota Senate and raised the state Minimum Wage from 6.15 an hour, one of the lowest in the nation, to 9.50 by August of 2016 making it the the fifth highest in country.

The legislation does NOT include any hospitality industry "tip penalty" or "Super Wage". UNITE HERE with it's community and faith based partners pushed back the Industry to assure that all  of Minnesota's nearly 50,000 servers will continue earn a full minimum wage in the work place. Minnesota remains one of 7 states that does not pay a sub-minimum wage.

Nearly 360,000 workers (23%) of the Minnesota workforce  will see their wages rise starting in August of this year!