The Minneapolis City Council laid out the basics of a minimum wage ordinance on Friday, asking staff to finalize a draft ordinance that would make Minneapolis the latest in a series of major U.S. cities to dramatically raise their minimum wage.
In a unanimous vote, the City Council directed staff to put together an ordinance that would raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, with no exceptions for tipped workers, that would be phased in over four years for large businesses. The audience at City Hall, full of 15 Now activists and union leaders, applauded.
“When we started this a few years ago, it was workers who led the way, so we are so thankful for all the time and effort,” Council Member Lisa Bender said. “Sometimes we forget that when we look out in the room, that behind all of you are 70,000 low-wage workers who will benefit from a $15 minimum wage.”
The council said the phase-in will be longer than four years for up to two tiers of smaller businesses, but the specifics of that, including the size of a business that would qualify as small, have yet to be worked out.
The proposed ordinance will likely include a youth training wage — a different minimum wage for people under 20 for their first 90 days on a job. After three months, those workers will qualify for the full minimum wage.
The council expects to have a formal draft ordinance by June 5. It will hold a public hearing on June 22 and then will vote on the ordinance before the end of June.
No city in America now has a $15 minimum wage, though several have passed such a measure and San Francisco is the closest to having it in effect. That city’s minimum wage is now $13, and will rise $1 on July 1 and another dollar next summer.
Council Members Bender, Alondra Cano, Elizabeth Glidden and Jacob Frey all spoke in favor of the proposed ordinance, as did Mayor Betsy Hodges, who said there is still work to be done and she plans to stay engaged.
“How we structure it, and over what period of time, will make a big difference for the businesses and the city of Minneapolis, especially those who have been participating so adamantly in our process,” Hodges said.
Glidden said wage stagnation is real, and in some cases wages are decreasing, which is why a $15 minimum wage is so important.
“This is the reality that is happening in many industries, and it is a pressure that is finding its way to really harm working people,” she said.
No council member spoke against the proposed ordinance.
Business groups and restaurant owners said Friday that they were disappointed.
Matt Perry, president of the Southwest Business Association, said the city does not have the ability to understand and monitor the effects of a higher minimum wage.
“The minimum wage discussion should happen at the state and federal level,” Perry said.
Jennifer Schellenberg, a bartender at the Red Rabbit in the North Loop who’s led the push to count tips toward the minimum wage, said she and her allies are not giving up, even though they recognize that it would be politically difficult for council members to side with them.
“I don’t believe that they want to do the damage that this legislation would cause,” Schellenberg said. “Not all hope is lost. I don’t believe that all of the City Council has stopped listening. I don’t believe that we’ve been dismissed by all of our leaders.”