Duluth Living Wage Coalition records
Scope and Contents
The collection includes Erik Peterson’s committee meeting notes of Duluth and St. Louis County, case statements, meeting rosters, meeting notices, agendas, minutes, publicity materials, relevant publications by Good Jobs First and Smart Growth, support documents, newspaper articles about this local and other states’ living wage campaigns. There are also files on living wage issues as they relate to child care costs and wages. Other participants: County Commissioner Liz Prebich, YWCA Executive Director Karen Diver.
- Creation: 1989-2003
- Duluth Living Wage Coalition (Organization)
Conditions Governing Access
Open for use in the Kathryn A. Martin Library, Archives and Special Collections.
Conditions Governing Use
This collection may be protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials. Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law.
Biographical / Historical
The Duluth Living Wage Coalition advocated for a Duluth Living Wage Ordinance. In July, 1997, the City Council passed a living wage ordinance requiring recipients of city economic development assistance of $25,000 or more to pay at least 90% of employees on the assisted project at least $6.50 an hour, $7.25 if health benefits are provided. As of 2002, the living wage figures were updated to $7.61 and $8.49 (as of 05/2005) (AFSCME Council 96).
In 1994, an effective alliance between labor (led by AFSCME) and religious leaders (BUILD) in Baltimore launched a successful campaign for a local law requiring city service contractors to pay a living wage. Since then, strong community, labor, and religious coalitions have fought for and won similar ordinances in St. Louis, Boston, Los Angeles, Tucson, San Jose, Portland, Milwaukee, Detroit, Minneapolis, and Oakland -- bringing the national living wage total to 122 ordinances. Today, more than 75 living wage campaigns are underway in cities, counties, states, and college campuses across the country.
Living wage campaigns seek to pass local ordinances requiring private businesses that benefit from public money to pay their workers a living wage. Commonly, the ordinances cover employers who hold large city or county service contracts or receive substantial financial assistance from the city in the form of grants, loans, bond financing, tax abatements, or other economic development subsidies.
The Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, is the nation's oldest and largest grassroots organization of low and moderate income people with over 200,000 members in over 90 cities. For 35 years, ACORN members have been organizing in their neighborhoods across the country around local issues such as affordable housing, safety, education, improved city services, and have taken the lead nationally on issues of affordable housing, tenant organizing, fighting banking and insurance discrimination, organizing workfare workers, and winning jobs and living wages.
The concept behind any living wage campaign is based on the premise that our limited public dollars should not be subsidizing poverty-wage work. When subsidized, employers are allowed to pay their workers less than a living wage, tax payers end up footing a double bill: the initial subsidy and then the food stamps, emergency medical, housing and other social services low wage workers may require to support themselves and their families even minimally. Public dollars should be leveraged for the public good -- reserved for those private sector employers who demonstrate a commitment to providing decent, family-supporting jobs in our local communities.
Many campaigns have defined the living wage as equivalent to the poverty line for a family of four, (in 2007, $9.06 an hour), though ordinances that have passed range from $6.25 to $13.00 an hour, with some newer campaigns pushing for even higher wages.
Increasingly, living wage coalitions are proposing other community standards in addition to a wage requirement, such as health benefits, vacation days, community hiring goals, public disclosure, community advisory boards, environmental standards, and language that supports union organizing.
Although each campaign is different, most share some common elements. Often spearheaded by ACORN, other community groups, union locals, or central labor councils, living wage campaigns are characterized by uniquely broad coalitions of local community, union, and religious leaders who come together to develop living wage principles, organize endorsements, draft ordinance language, and plan campaign strategy. The campaigns usually call for some degree of research into work and poverty in the area, research on city contracts, subsidies and related wage data, and often cost of living studies.
In addition, the strength of living wage efforts often lies in their ability to promote public education through distributing flyers, petitioning, rallies, demonstrations targeting low wage employers, low-wage worker speak-outs, reports, and press conferences. Because most current living wage campaigns seek to pass legislative measures, campaigns also include lobbying and negotiations with elected officials such as city and county councilors, the mayor's office, and city staff.
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Language of Materials
The collection includes Erik Peterson’s committee meeting notes of Duluth and St. Louis County, case statements, meeting rosters, meeting notices, agendas, minutes, publicity materials, relevant publications by Good Jobs First and Smart Growth, support documents, newspaper articles about this local and other states’ living wage campaigns. There are also files on living wage issues as they relate to child care costs and wages.
This collection is located at the University of Minnesota Duluth Archives. For more information about this collection or to make an appointment, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 218-726-8526.
- Guide to the Duluth Living Wage Coalition records
- Finding Aid Authors: P. Maus.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
Collecting Area Details
Contact The University of Minnesota Duluth Archives and Special Collections Collecting Area
Kathryn A. Martin Library
University of Minnesota Duluth
416 Library Drive
Duluth MN 55812-3001