Twin Cities' Punch Pizza again gives Obama minimum wage ammo

  • Updated: April 26, 2014 - 3:05 PM
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Punch Pizza in Northeast Minneapolis, Minn.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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WASHINGTON — In his weekly address Saturday, President Obama again pointed to a Twin Cities pizza maker in his latest plea to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, appealing to the public to pressure congressional Republicans to “do something to help working Americans.”

“While not all of us always see eye to eye politically, one thing we overwhelmingly agree on is that nobody who works full-time should ever have to live in poverty. That’s why nearly three in four Americans support raising the minimum wage,” Obama said. “The problem is, Republicans in Congress don’t support raising the minimum wage. Some even want to get rid of it entirely.”

Obama began his weekly address with the story of Punch Pizza co-owner John Soranno, whose decision to pay his employees $10 per hour has inspired other small business owners.

Obama heaped praise on Soranno, founder and co-owner of one of the Twin Cities’ favorite pizzerias, during the State of the Union address in January.

“A couple weeks ago, I got a letter from a small-business owner who watched that night. Yasmin Ibrahim is an immigrant who owns her own restaurant — Desi Shack — and plans to open another this summer,” Obama said.

“Here’s what she wrote. ‘I was moved by John Soranno’s story. It got me thinking about my … full-time employees and their ability to survive on $8 an hour in New York City.’ So a few weeks ago, Yasmin put in place a plan to lift wages for her employees at both her restaurants to at least $10 an hour by the end of this year.

“But here’s the thing — Yasmin isn’t just raising her employees’ wages because it’s the right thing to do. She’s doing it for the same reason John Soranno did. It makes good business sense.”

Obama also highlighted his own executive order, requiring federal contractors to pay new employees at least $10.10 an hour and made references to states “going around Congress to raise their workers’ wages.”

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed a minimum-wage increase into law this month, giving raises to more than 325,000 Minnesotans.

Corey Mitchell

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