St. Paul City Council passes $15 minimum wage, and mayor signs it

November 15, 2018

Within a decade, the lowest-paid workers in Minneapolis and St. Paul will be earning an hourly wage thats more than double the federal minimum.

The St. Paul City Council approved a citywide $15 minimum wage 7-0 Wednesday, joining a growing number of local governments across the country that have decided to exceed state and federal minimums. Under St. Pauls ordinance, employers of all sizes will have to start phasing in the wage hike in 2020, and workers across the city will be making $15 an hour or more by July 1, 2027.

Wednesdays vote was the culmination of about a year of lobbying, protests, public meetings and studies focused on how a minimum-wage increase would affect St. Paul, and how much the capital city should mirror the policy Minneapolis has already started to roll out.

The Minneapolis City Council passed a $15 minimum wage ordinance in 2017 after years of pressure from labor activists. At the time, those activists said St. Paul was their next target and the ordinance passed Wednesday meets many of their demands.

Though the ordinance includes some exemptions that activists oppose including for youth workers and independently-owned franchises it does not exempt tipped workers.

The tip credit or tip penalty was the most contentious part of the debate in both St. Paul and Minneapolis, with employers and employees in the restaurant business arguing that their industry will suffer if they cant count tips toward the $15 minimum. Opponents countered that the exemption would lead to wage theft and expose employees to sexual harassment.

Sean OByrne, who opened St. Pauls Great Waters Brewing Company in 1997, said Wednesday that he supported an exemption for tipped workers, and thought city leaders did a very poor job of listening to business owners during the minimum wage process.

OByrne wont be around to see how the wage hike affects his restaurant hes sold it, and the new owner takes over in a couple weeks.

Weve been around for 22 years, and the landscape has changed quite a bit, OByrne said when asked why he decided to sell. And then knowing that this $15 minimum wage was on the horizon would just make that landscape even rockier and tougher.

Emma Nelson 612-673-4509

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