Proponents of a citywide $15 minimum wage in Minneapolis portray their struggle as a fight for economic justice for the poor. This is a laudable endeavor (“Mpls. wants $15 wage in city by ’22,” June 7). However, reality is a cruel mistress. The truth is that a $15 minimum wage disproportionately hurts the poor and unemployed. A recent Harvard Business School study of the San Francisco restaurant industry in the wake of a drastic minimum-wage hike found that a $1 increase in the minimum resulted in a 14 percent increase in the likelihood of closure for a middle-of-the-road restaurant (http://bit.ly/2r30v2F).
Like many others, my first job was in a restaurant. Restaurants provide a leg up for the poor and can serve as steppingstones for the unemployed. A $15 minimum wage benefits current restaurant industry employees at establishments with large profit margins to the detriment of unemployed people looking for jobs and their prospective employers that operate with tighter margins.
Brian J. Krause, Minneapolis
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It is exciting to hear that the Minneapolis City Council rolled out its plan to raise the minimum wage in the city to $15 an hour. As a Minneapolis resident, I am happy our city is taking the lead on addressing the crisis of poverty wages that are harming families all across our city, state and country. As a nurse, I see my patients struggling to survive because of low wages and having to work multiple jobs just to make ends meet while facing health issues that they should not have to face. Countless studies have shown the correlation between higher wages and better health outcomes, including lower obesity rates, higher birth weights and lower rates of hypertension. With CEO pay and corporate profits through the roof, it is wrong that people working full time are still faced with the daunting task of trying to survive on poverty wages.
I hope the city is able to get as many of the 70,000-plus people currently making less than $15 to that rate sooner before later. This isn’t some abstract issue. This action will mean that our family members, friends and neighbors will have a chance for healthier lives.
Katie Quarles, Minneapolis
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Now that it appears to be a foregone conclusion that Minneapolis will increase the minimum wage to $15 and “no employer may directly or indirectly credit, apply, or utilize gratuities toward payment of the minimum wage,” I would like the elected officials to justify taxing gratuities and tips. Employees are required to report tips as income and pay taxes on tips. Employers are required to report employees’ tips and also pay taxes on those tips. If tips do not count as income for minimum-wage compliance, then stop taxing them as income. How convenient and hypocritical for the government to have its cake and eat it, too.
Alan Ackerberg, Edina
At least one misconception in letter about parental choice
A June 7 letter writer’s plea for “parental choice and medical freedom” was tainted by, at least, one major erroneous line of thinking. Though most of us (what’s the age cutoff here, please?) had chickenpox (varicella) when we were young, not everyone did. Adults acquiring chickenpox can have a serious, even life-threatening, illness with multiple complications. Furthermore, naturally acquired chickenpox has always been associated with later-in-life shingles, and the immunization for chickenpox is not responsible for an “epidemic” of shingles. The varicella virus may lie dormant in our systems for years. Any “epidemic” is likely related to increased numbers of diseases that lower one’s immune defenses (cancer and autoimmune disease, to name just a few) as well as the treatments for these illnesses, medications that alter immunity toward a positive end.
Dr. Paul Waytz, Minneapolis
Lack of renewal requirements is the large fly in the ointment
Regarding the June 7 editorial “Don’t undermine education reforms,” few disagree that Minnesota’s teacher licensure system needs more clarity, and our legislators have worked hard to address this complex issue in the new tiered licensure system in the E-12 education bill. But they have gone too far in using this moment of cleaning up the teacher licensing laws by inserting a mechanism to lower the bar for obtaining an unlimited license to teach in any area identified as a shortage area in the first tier of the licensing system. An unlimited license! There are no renewal requirements, as every other tier of the system requires. In Minnesota statute, even cosmetologists have a higher threshold of preparation to be licensed to practice, and temporary licenses (comparable to the Tier 1 teaching license) are for a limited length of time.
The concern over lowering the expectations for teacher licensure is falsely portrayed as a teachers-union-only issue. Every parent of a Minnesota student, as I am, should be deeply concerned that our lawmakers have put our children in harm’s way. The state’s responsibility in creating a licensing system is to provide a legal requirement for professional practice that protects the public from unqualified individuals who seek to practice. The teacher licensing system should put the interests of our kids and their protection first.
Mistilina Sato, St. Paul
The writer is a professor of teacher development at the University of Minnesota.
THIRD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
The thirst for town-hall interaction is not partisan
As a voter in Minnesota’s Third Congressional District, I take some issue with the Star Tribune’s description of Rep. Keith Ellison’s town hall in Rep. Erik Paulsen’s district. Jon Tevlin, in his June 7 column “Health care debate is ‘legacy’ of the times,” describes the audience as a “clearly partisan crowd.” I disagree. There were Republicans, Democrats and independents present. It was a publicly posted and advertised meeting, and all were welcome to attend. The “partisanship” we felt was frustration at Paulsen, who refuses to engage in public discussions, and our combined desire to finally hear from someone in Washington about what is happening — someone willing to take unscripted questions and give us sincere answers of what he believes, whether we agree with him or not.
Paulsen was specifically invited but chose not to attend. He did, however, send one of his lesser-known and recognizable district staff members to sit near the back and listen in. I can only hope that he heard what happened and decides that perhaps hosting a real town hall meeting with Minnesota Nice voters is not as scary as he thinks it is. Rep. Tom Emmer did it. From all accounts, there were disagreements, but the Emmer town hall remained civil and orderly. Why is Paulsen so afraid of his own constituents? Could it be that he knows his votes and position statements are indefensible?
Gretchen Haynes, Eden Prairie