As the city of Minneapolis holds public “listening sessions” to gauge public opinion on the minimum wage, we want to weigh in as three Somali small-business owners.
We all enthusiastically support a $15 minimum wage for all workers in Minneapolis by 2022, with no carve-outs or exemptions.
We own and operate three diverse businesses: a personal care assistant (PCA) company, a law firm and a grocery store. Our businesses are located in Cedar Riverside and on East Lake Street, some of the poorest neighborhoods in Minneapolis. During the city’s listening session in this area, we heard local workers and small-business owners express their need for higher wages. People testified to the ways poverty harms their health, safety, educational opportunities and families. There is strong support for this proposal in our neighborhoods and among our customers and clients.
Many of our clients are themselves workers in minimum wage or low-wage jobs — aircraft cleaners, janitors, personal care assistants, and hospital and health care support staff. These workers are essential to the stability and vibrancy of the Twin Cities’ economy, but are often themselves kept in poverty by the insufficient minimum wage of $9.50.
At Sahal Home Care Inc., a personal care assistant company, we support a $15 minimum wage because it’s the humane thing to do. In fact, I’m taking my support for equity and economic justice into a run for Minneapolis Park Board. My platform emphasizes my commitment to closing the wealth gap and increasing underserved communities’ access to city resources — the same goals that lead me to support a $15 minimum wage.
Raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour for all workers would spread Minneapolis’ tremendous resources into our communities. We aren’t afraid of going out of business after a wage increase — just the opposite. Our experiences with the recent statewide minimum wage increase from $7.25 to $9.50 tell us that all our businesses do better when our employees and customers have more economic security.
In Seattle, where the minimum wage is phasing up to $15 per hour, the data confirm that a higher minimum wage benefits small local businesses. Minneapolis’ own economic impact study predicts the same effects in our local economy.
If every minimum wage worker in Cedar Riverside got the raise they deserve and made $15 per hour, our businesses, along with all other locally owned small businesses in the area, would enjoy a massive economic boost. Our businesses will thrive when our customers make living wages.
Abdi Gurhan Mohamed is the owner of Sahal Home Care Inc. and is a candidate for the Minneapolis Park Board from District 3. Faisal Ahmed is co-owner of Ahmed & Harun Attorneys at Law. Abdirashid Jama is the owner of West Bank Grocery.