July 6, 2017
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Minneapolis, MN – Minneapolis became the first city in the Midwest to set a $15-an-hour minimum wage June 30, when the City Council voted 11-1 to phase it in by July 2022 for large employers.
The bill gives smaller businesses more time before they have to pay workers the full $15, but the Council rejected efforts by restaurant-industry lobbyists to exempt tipped workers from the higher minimum. Labor and community activists in the 15 Now Minnesota coalition had agitated for the increase for years, and helped persuade state legislators to defeat a bill that would have prohibited local governments, from setting minimums higher than the state’s, currently $9.50. “The increase is a testament to the bravery of workers who went on strike, spoke out, and marched in the streets,” said Christine Owens of the National Employment Law Project. The bill’s sponsors estimated that getting a raise to $15 would benefit almost one-fourth of the city’s workforce, about 71,000 people—although they also noted that $15 was still a quarter short of what the state Department of Employment and Economic Development estimates as a living wage in Hennepin County, which includes Minneapolis. Read more
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