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Nationwide protests, including here in MSP, call for higher wages

One of the more closely watched and hotly debated topics at both the state and federal level over the course of the last few years has been the adequacy of wage and hour laws.

Indeed, this past election saw voters in four states -- Alaska, Arkansas, Nevada, and South Dakota -- vote "yes" to the issue of whether the minimum wage in their respective states should be increased, joining the ranks of states like Minnesota, where the minimum wage recently increased from $6.15 to $8 this past summer and is scheduled to hit $9.50 two years from now.

Looking to capitalize on this momentum -- 29 states will have a minimum wage higher than the federal standard of $7.25 come Jan. 1 -- and enact meaningful change, employees in 190 cities in 35 states staged protests and walkouts earlier this month in support of higher wages.

These protest efforts, organized primarily by the Service Employees International Union as part of its Fight for $15 campaign, focused primarily on the plight of employees in the fast food, home health care and airport industries.

"The Fight for $15 movement is growing as more Americans living on the brink decide to stick together to fight for better pay and an economy that works for all of us, not just the wealthy few," wrote the SEIU president.

There were multiple protests efforts right here in the Twin Cities, including at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, where a large number of workers -- cabin cleaners, wheelchair agents and cart drivers -- banded together to collectively voice their demands.

During the protests, which temporarily prevented traffic from accessing the airport entrance ramp, the protestors called for a new $15 per hour minimum wage and the right to unionize.

It remains to be seen whether these efforts will help sway politicians to reconsider their positions on raising the minimum wage yet again, or convince business groups to even consider altering their otherwise firmly entrenched position against such a move.

Remember to consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you believe that you have been victimized by employee misclassification, unpaid overtime or minimum wage violations.

Sources: USA Today, "Protesters nationwide call for $15 minimum wage," Michael Winter, Jeff Ayres and Bill Laitner, Dec. 4, 2014; CBS Minnesota, "About 100 protest at MSP Airport for higher wages," Reg Chapman, Dec. 5, 2014

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