Mayor Hodges: ‘Minneapolis Is Going to Lead on the Minimum Wage, and We Have to Get It Right’

December 19, 2016 (MINNEAPOLIS) — Mayor Hodges released the following statement this evening:

It is clear that the Minneapolis City Council will pass some version of a city-only minimum wage in the first half of next year. It matters for the future prosperity of workers and businesses in the rest of our region and state that if Minneapolis is going to lead on minimum wage, we get it right. In the context of the dramatically changed state and national political landscape, I support a responsible, sustainable, single fair wage that does not penalize tipped workers.

In the debate over the minimum wage in Minneapolis, I have often expressed my preference for a regional approach. To that end, this fall, I led an effort with labor leaders, regional elected officials, and progressive legislators to begin crafting a bill to authorize a higher minimum wage across the entire metropolitan area. I have also said clearly that I do not think Minneapolis should go it alone.

However, with dramatic changes in the state and national political landscapes, it is clear that the path to passing a higher national, statewide, or regional minimum wage has become far narrower. Despite my preference for a regional approach, in this context — and because it is clear that the City Council is moving toward action — I am laying out a set of principles for passing a higher minimum wage in Minneapolis. These principles include not leaving tipped workers behind; sustainability across all sectors and industries in our city, including our vibrant restaurant sector; and doing no harm.

A Minneapolis minimum wage must do no harm. We in Minnesota, unlike most other states, have not discriminated between classes of workers by setting different minimum wages among them. As we move forward in Minneapolis, the wage we pass must not hold our tipped workers back — most of whom are women — or set a new, harmful precedent that will hurt tipped workers statewide.

We in Minneapolis have the opportunity and the responsibility to get this right not only for our own residents and businesses, but for people and businesses across our region and our state.

My work on a regional approach

I have always believed that the ideal way to enact higher minimum wages is at the largest possible jurisdiction: not only does this approach cover the greatest number of workers possible, it is fairest possible approach for the greatest number of businesses. This is why I have consistently supported a higher federal minimum wage, and helped to pass the statewide minimum-wage increase that Democratic majorities in the Minnesota Legislature passed and Governor Dayton signed in 2014.

For this reason, I convened an effort this fall with multiple regional partners to start writing state legislation for a higher regional minimum wage. I support raising the wage regionally, which I believe the metro economy can support, in order to benefit the estimated 30,000 or more Minneapolis residents who happen to work at low-wage jobs outside Minneapolis. I support it also because it would create the most level playing field for workers and businesses in our region: workers who live in one city but work in another and businesses with locations in multiple cities would all benefit from one set of rules.

In this effort, I worked with progressive legislators Senator Scott Dibble, Representative Jean Wagenius, Representative Peggy Flanagan, Representative John Lesch, and others. I also worked with then-Richfield Mayor, now-Hennepin County Commissioner-elect Debbie Goettel, and with Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou, president of the Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation.

“The overall strength of the metropolitan economy provides us with the opportunity to establish a higher minimum wage in our region with very little downside, and by so doing, to reduce poverty and lift more people into the middle class.  I appreciate Mayor Hodges’ leadership in bringing us together around this possibility,” said Representative Lesch. “Even if our path to success is more challenging in the near term because of the election results, I will stay focused on this until we make it a reality.”

One fair wage

I refuse to give up on the longer-term goal of a higher regional wage, even in the painful, new political context of Donald Trump and Republican control of Congress and the Minnesota Legislature. This is why we must keep in focus that what we pass in Minneapolis matters far beyond our city’s borders.

The federal minimum wage for tipped workers has been stuck at $2.13 an hour since 1991. This wage, which is immorally low, is a principal reason that so many people across the country who work for tips — the majority of whom are women — are still living near the poverty level. In Minnesota, however, we have chosen to do better by our people: we are just one of seven states with no penalty for workers who are tipped.

Any Minneapolis minimum wage must, therefore, do no harm. When in April 2015, I first proposed our Earned Sick and Safe Time ordinance, I did so with an eye toward eventually passing statewide legislation to extend to all Minnesota families the protections I first proposed for Minneapolis families.  Advocates, the City Council, and I all agreed that we would not pass the kind of exemptions or restrictions that would harm longer-term efforts to pass strong statewide protections. 

The same principle holds here. 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.

While any final ordinance will be shaped by community input and Council deliberations, we in Minneapolis should be guided by the principle of doing right by all Minneapolitans and all Minnesotans.

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Published Dec 19, 2016



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