On April 14th, we celebrated the signing of the Minimum Wage Bill by Gov. Mark Dayton.  “Minnesotans who work full-time should be able to earn enough money to lift their families out of poverty” said Dayton, surrounded by legislators, labor and community leaders at a ceremonial bill signing in the State Capitol rotunda. “Raising the minimum wage to $9.50, and indexing it to inflation, will improve the lives of over 325,000 hard-working Minnesotans.”

Governor Mark Dayton signs the bill increasing the minimum wage

Many ISAIAH leaders were at the Capitol to witness the signing. “The timing of the passage and signing of this legislation is very meaningful to me,” said ISAIAH’s Rev. James Erlandson, pastor of Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in St. Paul.  “It’s the beginning of a very holy week, with good news for the poor.”

ISAIAH leaders Rev. James Erlandson and Myrna Nelson were at the Capitol to celebrate the signing of the minimum wage bill.

ISAIAH leaders were instrumental in moving the legislature to pass this historic legislation. During the past two legislative sessions, they made countless appearances before committees and met with individual lawmakers giving the faith perspective a high profile in the debate.  Bishop Larry Wohlrabe, who leads the ELCA church in northwestern Minnesota, penned a powerful editorial on minimum wage published in the Fargo Forum.  Our important role was clear to Rep. Ryan Winkler, the lead negotiator and chief champion of this legislation in the Minnesota House, who thanked the faith community for bringing a moral voice to the debate in the closing days of the campaign.

We also encouraged the Minnesota Department of Health to research how wages affect health. The study, released at a press conference at the Capitol, showed very clearly that low wage workers have poorer health outcomes.  Sen. Chris Eaton, the lead Senate negotiator, said that as a Registered Nurse, she was especially moved by this report.

Increasing the minimum wage is a key first step in improving the lives of workers in our state. We will continue this work to make Minnesota a place where all people are treated with dignity. Stay tuned for more opportunities to be involved in shaping the future of work in our state!