Starting Sunday, the lowest-paid workers in Minneapolis should see an increase in their paychecks, marking the first big change in the city’s path to a $15 minimum wage.
To make sure that word gets out, the city has been sending out letters and mass e-mails to all employers in Minneapolis.
“It’s really an all-hands-on-deck kind of approach,” said Brian Walsh, labor standards enforcement supervisor in the Minneapolis Department of Civil Rights.
Throughout the summer, city interns will canvass neighborhoods, handing out fliers about the wage increases. The city has made robocalls and used social media to advertise its website about the ordinance, minimumwage.minneapolismn.gov, which has been receiving 2,000 visitors a day, Walsh said.
Walsh said employees who feel they are getting shortchanged should contact his department.
“We are confident that helping 71,000 lower-wage workers and families is also going to help our local economy because all of these 71,000 families are consumers as well,” he said. “That is an investment in our current and future labor force.”
Cam Winton, director of energy and labor management policy at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, said Minneapolis’ minimum wage ordinance will create an administrative burden for small and midsize employers.
He said employers may hire fewer workers, and some of them may shift to automation.
“If the price of labor is higher than what the market is willing to bear,” he said, “then employers are going to purchase less labor and that’s what I’m afraid may happen in Minneapolis.”
A year ago, Minneapolis became the first city in the state to raise the minimum wage. In St. Paul, momentum is building for the City Council to adopt a $15 minimum wage this year. Supporters and critics alike say they expect St. Paul to follow Minneapolis’ lead.
The Minneapolis ordinance requires large employers to gradually increase their minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2022, and small employers to do so by 2024. The current state minimum wage is $9.65 for large employers and $7.87 for small ones.
Under the law, small businesses employing fewer than 100 people must increase their employees’ pay on July 1 to a minimum of $10.25 per hour. For large employers, who began implementing the city’s minimum wage ordinance in January, workers earning $10 an hour will get an additional $1.25.
The ordinance applies to any employee who works at least two hours a week in Minneapolis, regardless of whether the employer is located outside the city.
Chelsie Glaubitz Gabiou, president of Minneapolis Regional Labor Federation, said many workers and business owners in Minneapolis may not be aware of the upcoming minimum wage increase. The federation is calling on the city to give grants to worker and business groups to help with the outreach.
Supporters of minimum wage boosts held a rally on Thursday organized by 15 Now and Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en la Lucha, which advocates for low-wage workers across the Twin Cities.
One supporter at the rally was Laura Alarcon, a mother of two who gets up early every morning to deliver newspapers.
“I feel good,” Alarcon said through a Spanish-speaking translator. “It’s going to be a big benefit because I will be bringing home more money on my check.”