Minneapolis should establish a minimum wage of at least $12.49 per hour and phase it in over at least four years, making no exception for tipped workers such as servers or bartenders, according to recommendations from a long-awaited staff report on the issue, which will be reviewed Thursday by the City Council.
A draft minimum wage ordinance should be presented in June, and the City Council expects to hold a public hearing on the matter June 22.
A majority of the 13-member City Council already has said it supports a $15 minimum wage with no exception for tipped workers, though the length of the phase-in and whether the city establishes a youth wage are up for debate.
Relying on a city-commissioned study of the minimum wage from September, analysis of other cities' minimum wage ordinances, 16 listening sessions across the city that attracted about 450 people and about 1,759 responses to a city-distributed survey, staff wrote a 32-page report that offered recommendations on several of the questions being debated. The document was sent to council members late Monday afternoon.
The report says a new municipal minimum wage should apply to "anyone who works in Minneapolis for any amount of time," and "pending review from the City Attorney's Office, we also recommend the policy apply regardless of business location."
The report doesn't recommend a specific wage, but said it should fall between $12.49 per hour and $15 per hour. It also recommends a four-year phase-in for all businesses, and one or two years longer for "smaller and micro businesses."
A "hardship exemption" for small businesses that apply for it was recommended.
On one of the most contentious issues — whether to make an exception for tipped workers such as servers and bartenders who often already make more than $15 an hour including tips — the report recommended the City Council make no exception. Opposing such an exception is a cause that's been championed by Mayor Betsy Hodges, who had long been cool to the idea of a municipal minimum wage.
Any new minimum wage should pay servers the same baseline wage as everyone else, the report said. Restaurant owners and servers who've been lobbying for the City Council to treats tips as wages for the purposes of a minimum wage were disappointed on Monday.
"A majority of the City Council and the mayor made up their minds several weeks ago," said Sarah Norton, a server and leader of the Facebook group Service Industry Staff for Change. "Who are they actually listening to — special interests who fund their campaigns or those most impacted by their decision? I think the answer is clear. Regardless of this report, we will continue to fight to protect our jobs and our income by urging the City Council to support tip recognition."
The report does make a concession to businesses who want to pay a lower minimum wage to youth workers. The City Council should set a training wage that may be paid to workers 20 or younger for a 90-day trial period, the report said, and the "training wage could be set at 85 percent of the minimum wage."