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Restaurant Association Responds to Mayor’s Support for Higher Minneapolis Minimum Wage

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges

In a December 20 email to members, the Minnesota Restaurant Association said it’s taking the possibility of a higher local minimum wage in Minneapolis “very seriously,” and has already selected Minneapolis law firm Lockridge Grindal Nauen to assist in a campaign to “impact the process and influence the final results.”

The MRA’s announcement came a day after Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges issued a statement changing her position in support of a higher city-only minimum wage, which she said the city council would pass in the first half of 2017. What that wage should be, Hodges doesn’t say, but she made clear she doesn’t support a different wage for tipped workers.

“ … I support a responsible, sustainable, single fair wage that does not penalize tipped workers,” said Hodges in the statement. And later, “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.”

Hodges previously said she preferred a regional approach, but in her statement noted a change in the political landscape—Republicans took control of the Legislature in the November election—that will make a state or regional wage difficult to pass.

In its own statement, the MRA noted it supports bringing the minimum wage in Minneapolis to $15 an hour “over time,” but that “It is important that the City of Minneapolis recognize that restaurants and bars are a different type of business because they have a unique form of compensation for employees that includes both hourly wages and tips.”

“Our concern is that Mayor Hodges misunderstands how a tiered wage policy would benefit tipped workers by protecting their jobs and income,” the association said. “We agree with the mayor that a Minneapolis 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.”

At the state level, the restaurant association has previously pushed for legislation allowing employees to more easily share tips, and a law change exempting the minimum wage paid to tipped employees earning $12 an hour or more from the current inflation provision.

As Minneapolis moves forward with community listening sessions in January, the MRA plans to undertake grassroots efforts to involve restaurant and hotel operators in the city, along with employees, while also lobbying members of the city council.

“Our efforts will not be limited to members of our associations or our partner groups,” the MRA said. “This issue is so incredibly important that we need the involvement of the entire broad hospitality industry.”

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