Hundreds Amass at Minneapolis City Hall in Support of $15 Minimum Wage

After a measure failed at the state level, Minneapolis proposed an ordinance to institute a living wage for workers in the city. The city held a hearing to take comments from the public yesterday. Workers, business owners, immigrants and other Minneapolis citizens crowded inside and outside the Minneapolis City Council Chamber yesterday to state their opinions on the proposed minimum wage increase to council members.

Over a hundred people signed up to speak to the council members, though many waited in the hallway to speak or watched the proceedings elsewhere in the building because there wasn’t enough room in the chambers, hallways and other viewing locations. Multiple conference rooms opened to the public were packed with residents, and about 25 people sat around a television setup in the rotunda.

Minneapolis residents gather in a conference room setup for people to view the hearing. Image credit: Benjamin Pecka

While speakers appeared to be in full support of raising the minimum wage to $15 or more, they were divided on the exclusion of a tip credit in the current proposal. The concern from restaurant owners and servers is that tipped workers wouldn’t get a raise to $15 an hour because a lot them make a total gross that amounts to an average of the proposed increase, and that smaller restaurants would struggle to remain in business if the proper considerations were not taken.

Mayor Betsy Hodges does not support a tip credit and referred to it as a “tip penalty” but multiple servers and restaurants owners were concerned with the negative impact it could have on small business.

“If my tips don’t count as income, I move that I don’t have to pay taxes on them,”

stated one woman sarcastically. Another resident said that the minimum wage is supposed to help the people who make the least amount of money but a $15 minimum wage across the board would not help. However, a study commissioned by the city states that Minneapolis’ economy is healthy enough to handle any negative consequences of an increase.

Towards the beginning of the meeting, Council Member Elizabeth Glidden became visibly frustrated at the racket from outside of the Chamber. Glidden requested several times that doors to the chambers remain closed and for staff to ask the people gathered in the hallway to quiet down. The groups in the hallway were chanting loudly in support of a $15 minimum wage, which drowned out speakers at the microphones on multiple occasions.

Below is video of the chanting crowd gathered outside the council chambers and being asked to keep it quiet.

The proposed increase would require any business within the city to pay their employees an increased minimum wage in a tiered phase over no less than four years, but that there would an extra one or two years for small businesses. In their report, staff also recommended a 90-day training wage for workers aged 20 and younger. A resident commented during the hearing that this period wouldn’t allows students to reach minimum wage by the end of the summer job season.

Based on the city’s goal of reducing racial income disparities and the Wilkins study conducted by the University of Minnesota to assess the economic viability of an increased city minimum wage, staff recommended that it be set between the regional index of $12.49 and the national trend of $15 per hour, and then indexed to inflation.

According to the city’s website, the final draft ordinance will be presented to the Committee of the Whole on Wednesday, Jun. 28 at 10 a.m. Amendments and revisions may be proposed and approved during this meeting before final minimum wage ordinance is considered and potentially approved during the city council’s regular meeting on Friday, Jun. 30 at 9:30 a.m.

Broadcasts of all city council meetings are on Minneapolis 14 and the City of Minneapolis’ YouTube channel. The maximum occupancy of the council chambers is limited to 100 residents.

Benjamin Pecka contributed to this story.

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