Lyndale Neighborhood Association jumps into minimum wage effort

Volunteers at the Lyndale Neighborhood Association (LNA) are writing letters and meeting with legislators to advocate for an increase in the minimum wage.

They’re pushing for an increase to $9.50 over three years that’s indexed to inflation and includes a tip credit.

“We’re connecting folks in the community with what’s going on at the Capitol,” said LNA Executive Director Mark Hinds.

LNA members didn’t take the decision lightly, however.

Every election, Lyndale neighborhood volunteers canvass the community to encourage people to vote. While they were at it last fall, they also asked residents about issues of importance to them.

“We try to make sure our work stays rooted in what the interests of our community members are,” Hinds said.

The issue volunteers heard the most involved help for low-wage workers. According to the last census, the median household income in Lyndale was about $10,000 less than the citywide income level, Hinds said. A high percentage of students in Lyndale receive free and reduced-price lunch.

So the neighborhood group circled back and talked to a wider group of people, asking whether LNA should advocate for an increase in the minimum wage. They knocked on more than 500 doors and talked to nearly 200 people. Hinds said the concept found widespread support within the area business community and residents. Many area small businesses already pay more than minimum wage, according to LNA meeting minutes, though one national chain business expressed concern about an increase, as their costs are controlled at the corporate level.

At neighborhood meetings in recent months, LNA heard from people working at or close to minimum wage. One community member said she would use extra earnings to buy fresh produce. Hinds wrote in the Lyndale Neighborhood News that another community member said her mother worked three minimum-wage jobs in New York to make ends meet, and she saw her mother only a few minutes every day.

“When you work on minimum wage, it’s really difficult, no matter how many hours you work, to make ends meet,” Hinds said.