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BEST HELLRAISER OR ACTIVIST GROUP Minneapolis 2004 - JOBS NOW Coalition

Unless your last name is Dayton, Pillsbury, or Cowles, you owe the folks at the helm of this St. Paul-based nonprofit a debt of gratitude. We don't know anyone else who is as dedicated to looking at Minnesota's economy from the standpoint of the working stiff, or anyone else who is doing a better job of explaining exactly how it is that a living wage has gotten to be so out of reach for more and more families. For more than 20 years, the JOBS NOW Coalition has been advancing the cause of the family-supporting wage on three fronts: They use their economic smarts to document the difference between the official minimum wage and families' real cost of living, they advocate for public policies fostering those wages, and--our favorite--they engage in "relentless public education, revealing the common interests that employers and employees have in jobs that pay well." Thanks to this last effort, we know that a bare-bones budget for a family of four in the Twin Cities is nearly $52,000, almost triple the federal poverty level. Their work has been praised by such luminaries as Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America, and--perhaps more importantly--replicated by the progressive economists at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. If you're doing all right these days and your job has survived the recession, maybe you ought to perform a mitzvah and write them a check.

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