NEWS & VIEWS OF PHILLIPS SINCE 1976
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Random alley News July ’22

Written or compiled by LINDSEY FENNER

100 Percent of Cristo Rey’s Graduating Class of 2022 Accepted Into College: For the twelfth year in a row, the Jesuit High School in Phillips West will be sending all of its seniors to college. The private Roman Catholic school, which was established in 2007, is part of the “Cristo Rey Network” of 38 schools around the US that prepare low-income students of color for post-secondary education. Congratulations graduates!

Minimum Wage Increases July 1 in Minneapolis: On July 1, 2022, the minimum wage in Minneapolis is going up to $13.50 at small businesses and $15 at large businesses. The Minneapolis minimum wage ordinance defines small businesses as 100 or fewer employees and large businesses as more than 100 employees. Tips and gratuities do not count toward payment of a minimum wage. The City’s Department of Civil Rights oversees enforcement of the municipal minimum wage and wage theft prevention ordinances, and workers are encouraged to report violations online at www.minimumwage.minneapolismn.gov

-City of Minneapolis

South Minneapolis Tenants Go on a Rent Strike to Protest Safety and Maintenance Issues: Five families who live at 3100 Bloomington Avenue South announced on May 25 they would be withholding May rent to protest unsafe and unhealthy living conditions. Residents are supported by United Renters for Justice – Inquilinxs Unidxs por Justicia, a tenant-led housing justice organization. The property was formerly owned by landlord Stephen Frenz, who in 2016 was sued by tenants, lost his rental license, and later went to jail. The new owners of the building say they are not affiliated with Frenz. 

A Strike, a Picket, and an Expiring Contract at Abbott Northwestern Hospital: On May 24, mental health workers represented by SEIU went on a one-day Unfair Labor Practices Strike at Allina’s Abbott Northwestern and Unity hospitals, and M Health Fairview Hospital. Mental health workers have been negotiating  their first contract after unionizing in fall 2021. Workplace violence and safety concerns are top issues for workers. 

On June 1, thousands of nurses held informational pickets at 11 hospitals around the Twin Cities, including Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Phillips, to bring attention to the expiration of their collective bargaining agreement on May 31, 2022. Registered nurses, represented by the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA), have been in contract negotiations with area hospitals since March. Nurses have been raising concerns about staffing shortages and retention, issues exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic. The action on June 1 was not a work stoppage. MNA nurses at Allina and other area health systems last went on strike in 2016.

Minnesota State Legislature End of Session Phillips Update: There was going to be an update on various bills and bonding projects passed that impact the Phillips neighborhoods this month. Unfortunately, the State Legislature adjourned at their legally required deadline at the end of May without getting all of their work done. Significantly, this year of the two-year legislative budget cycle or biennium usually focuses on bonding, that is, money for large infrastructure and building projects. Some proposed funding for Phillips-area projects included 83.9 million for the Urban Indigenous Legacy Initiative, 5 million for the expansion and renovation of Norway House, 20 million for East Phillips Neighborhood Institute for the Urban Farm project and 20 million for the Somali Museum to build their own building. As of mid-June, no special session of the MN State Legislature has been scheduled. If a special session is called and any of these important projects are funded, we will include in it the alley.

Compromise Plan Close at Hand for East Phillips Urban Farm and Hiawatha Maintenance Facility: At the June 14 Minneapolis City Council Committee of the Whole meeting, Ward 9 Councilmember Jason Chavez led a presentation on a proposed compromise plan to move the East Phillips Urban Farm project closer to reality. After a two-week public comment period, a final plan was expected to be voted on at the City Council meeting on June 30, after the July issue of the alley had gone to press. The proposed plan presented at the June 14 meeting would set aside 35% or three acres of the Roof Depot site for community use, with 24-month exclusive development rights for the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute (EPNI), the community organization that has been leading the advocacy for the urban farm project. The compromise plan also includes a Public Works training facility that would prioritize residents within a 2-mile radius of the Hiawatha Maintenance Facility, a commitment to switch Minneapolis fleet vehicles at the site to electric vehicles as soon as possible, environmental mediation of the site, and assistance from the City in seeking State funding for the Urban Farm project. The plan came after ongoing discussions with the East Phillips Neighborhood Institute, the Mayor’s Office, Public Works, CM Chavez with the support of Ward 12 CM Andrew Johnson and Ward 11 CM Emily Koski. Look for an update in the August alley.

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