The city of Minneapolis this week kicked off the first of several “listening sessions” to gather public feedback on establishing a citywide minimum wage.

The first event was at Mercado Central on Lake Street, where about 60 people gathered to discuss proposals, including a $15 minimum wage.

Filiberto Onofre, the owner of Panaderia El Mexicano on E. Lake Street, said the consequences of a higher minimum wage will be dire for him and other business owners.

“I assure you, if this minimum wage is passed, many of the businesses on Lake will disappear,” Onofre said. He has five employees, and said he would close his business if the minimum wage rose, and look for a job for himself.

Miranda Hoeferson said the cost of rent, a car payment and medical care is too high for someone like her, who works at a restaurant and gets tips of about $70 per week.

“Even if I get $15, I’m still dependent on my tips, because my tips are not that much,” Hoeferson said.

Lina Goh, co-owner of the Zen Box Izakaya, said her servers make way more than $15 per hour already, well over $20, in fact. She believes a Minneapolis minimum wage hike would create a regional imbalance.

“You’re trying to help the people who live in Minneapolis to raise their living standards, but you’re going to have an influx of people coming from outside of the city to compete with people from Minneapolis,” Goh said.

Ricardo Levins Morales, who owns an art studio on Minnehaha Avenue, said he has four employees who each earn more than $15 an hour, and he doesn’t think that’s unreasonable for the city to require.

Most of the attendees at Mercado Central on Tuesday were from interest groups on either side of the minimum wage debate, including 15 Now advocates and leaders from Hospitality Minnesota, which represents restaurant owners.

The city also held minimum wage listening sessions on Wednesday and Thursday, and plans six more before the end of February.

 

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