Seward Co-op's decision to endorse the Minneapolis $15/hour minimum wage ordinance is rooted in our cooperative goal of creating equitability in the economy. Our Ends Statement says that we will sustain a healthy community with equitable economic relationships. We believe the current minimum wage of $9.50 is insufficient and is not equitable in our community.
Our goal is to pay our staff a living wage. A significant piece of the co-op’s pricing strategy is based on pay equity. Others businesses in the food industry do not have that goal. Seward Co-op established a living-wage model for its staff in 2006. We are committed to taking that model a step further.
Cheap food is promoted in the food system at the peril of food system workers. One of the key factors contributing to cheap food is the fact that food workers earn disproportionately low wages. As a co-op, we have been working for more than four decades to change that. We hope that this endorsement will provide a framework through which to discuss who is hurt by a cheap food system and the real cost of food.
We believe it is important to raise the minimum wage in order to address exploitation in the food industry. We believe that one way to do that is to pay everyone, from farmers to food chain workers, a fair wage.
Last September, the Seward Co-op Board of Directors asked General Manager Sean Doyle to determine the feasibility of increasing the starting wage at Seward Co-op to at least $15 per hour. This was in response to a proposal before the City of Minneapolis to raise the minimum wage over the course of the next few years until it reaches $15 an hour in 2023. Over the past several months, significant analysis and discussion has occurred among staff at the co-op. We've determined that a change to our starting wage over the next few years is viable.
We are working with 15 Now MN, a local organization advocating for an increase in the minimum wage. They are leading the Minneapolis campaign to increase the minimum wage over the next five years to $15 hour in 2023. Representatives from 15 Now MN will also be at the Seward Co-op CSA Fair on Saturday, April 22, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., in the Franklin store parking lot.
For more information on 15 Now and the $15/hr. minimum wage ordinance, as well as the co-op's current wage scale and other questions, please read the FAQ.