Seattle council member headlines Minneapolis rally for $15 minimum wage

The council member who led Seattle's successful push for a $15 minimum wage was in Minneapolis to make a case that Minnesota's largest city should follow suit.

Kshama Sawant is the headline speaker at the 15 Now event, which was held at 6 p.m. at the United Labor Center. She was joined by two Minneapolis council members who are supportive of her efforts, Jacob Frey and Alondra Cano.

Frey, however, isn't quite ready to say he supports raising Minneapolis's minimum wage all the way to $15.

For one, it remains an open question whether a Minnesota city raising its minimum wage above above the state level could survive a legal challenge.

Secondly, there are concerns raising Minneapolis's minimum wage might drive businesses to neighboring cities.

Nonetheless, Frey tells Fox 9 he supports the idea of raising Minneapolis's minimum wage.

"Everyone deserves a living wage, period," Frey says. "How best to accomplish that goal is a conversation worth having."

Last fall, Cano expressed similar sentiments to this reporter -- asked about a $15 minimum wage in Minneapolis, she said, "I think people feel that it's the morally right thing to do, and the right time to do it" -- but she also pointed out that circumstances may be different here than they are in Seattle.

"Minneapolis is a very competitive and connected environment where if we make any moves that would discourage companies from doing business here, they could move to St. Louis Park, Bloomington, or St. Paul," Cano said. "Seattle is a hub of the local economy, a lot of companies are locked in and anchored there, so the real question is how do we ensure that people in Minneapolis benefit from this move? If we do this, how many of these jobs would stay in Minneapolis and benefit residents? At this point we're doing a lot of research."

After Sawant was elected to the Seattle City Council, she created 15 Now, a group that is working on campaigns for $15 minimum wages throughout the country.

"To continue this fight, and to spread it to the City of Minneapolis, 15 Now aims to raise $50,000 in the next four months," a Facebook post about the event says. "The rally with Sawant on February 15th will kick-off our fundraising drive."