Hodges Comes Out In Support Of Higher Minimum Wage For Minneapolis
Minneapolis will implement a higher minimum wage sometime early next year, so it should be done “right,” Mayor Betsy Hodges said in a statement on Monday.
The announcement was a softening of the mayor’s previous position, which held that the city shouldn’t go it alone but instead push for a regional or statewide increase of the minimum wage. But with GOP control of all branches of government at the federal level, as well as both chambers of the legislature in Minnesota, broad changes outside city limits are looking increasingly unlikely.
“In the context of a dramatically changed state and national political landscape, I support a responsible, sustainable, single fair wage that does not penalize tipped workers,” she said.
Efforts to get the city council to pass a higher minimum wage ramped up this fall after a judge ruled that the issue couldn’t be put to a vote on the November ballot because the Minneapolis city charter doesn’t permit referenda.
Activists have been fighting for a $15 an hour wage as part of the so-called “Working Families Agenda” that Hodges proposed after she won the mayoral election in 2013. One part of the agenda—paid sick and safe time for all workers—is set to take effect in 2017. A “fair scheduling” ordinance raised the ire of business owners and was shelved.
In her statement Monday, Hodges emphasized that any ordinance raising the minimum wage in the city should not include a tip credit, which allows employers to pay tipped employees a lower base wage as long as their pay averages out to at least minimum wage. Minnesota requires all workers to be paid the minimum wage of $9.50 an hour without a tip credit (the federal government permits a tipped worker wage of $2.13 an hour). The mayor said she worries that providing a tip credit would prompt the legislature to do the same statewide.
“Any Minneapolis minimum wage ordinance must … do no harm,” she said. “If Minneapolis were to move the clock backwards on fair wages for all, Republicans who now control the Minnesota legislature would surely follow suit, with negative consequences for our state as a whole.”
Following Hodges’ statement, the Minnesota Restaurant Association responded with its own that voiced support for a “pathway” to a $15 an hour wage in the city but also cautioned opposition to a tip credit.
“Our concern is that Mayor Hodges misunderstands how a tiered wage policy would benefit tipped workers by protecting their jobs and income,” the association wrote. “We agree with the mayor that a minimum wage must do no harm and that the restaurant sector in Minneapolis must remain vibrant. Together, we look forward to working with her to reach these mutual goals.”