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Challenging Corporate Power

Minneapolis is getting a raise and becoming the first Midwestern city to enact a $15 an hour minimum wage. The proposal will benefit 71,000 workers, overwhelmingly women and workers of color. Our victory on $15 in Minneapolis shows another way cities can push back against Trump’s corporate-backed agenda. In three short years, the fight for $15 in Minneapolis went from an isolated call from the left to become the central slogan of the Minneapolis labor and progressive movement because we built a relentless grassroots movement.

The most important lesson from the $15 minimum wage campaign in Minneapolis is this: working people cannot limit themselves to what is deemed acceptable by the political establishment and big business. We need to organize independently with clear demands in order to get things done, and there is lots more work to do in Minneapolis. The Twin Cities are home to 17 Fortune 500 companies – the highest concentration in the country – yet also to the worst racial inequities in the nation. A staggering 48% of black people in Minneapolis live in poverty.

Minneapolis is a one-party town, run from top to bottom by the DFL. In 2013, a new mayor and City Council were elected promising progressive change. Since then, we’ve seen inequality and housing costs further skyrocket. As a member of Socialist Alternative, I believe we need to build an entirely new political party, independent of the political establishment and corporate cash. A party rooted in struggle—in communities, workplaces, and social movements—whose political representatives are accountable to the demands of ordinary people in the halls of power.

Five billionaires now have as much wealth as half the world’s population. Corporations dodge taxes and use their power to control our political system, policies, parties and politicians. Capitalism has failed working people, especially women, the LGBTQ community, and people of color. We need a fundamental transformation of society, including taking the top 500 corporations into democratic public ownership by working people to lay the basis for a socialist world based on cooperation and solidarity, not exploitation and oppression.