City Council directs staff to draft a municipal minimum wage ordinance

The City Council voted today to direct City staff to draft an ordinance establishing a $15-an-hour minimum wage for employees in Minneapolis. There would be a tiered phase-in period for businesses, giving large businesses four years after ordinance adoption to reach the target wage and a longer period for smaller businesses.

The City Attorney’s Office is scheduled to present the draft ordinance for a municipal minimum wage at a special meeting of the council’s Committee of the Whole 3 p.m. Tuesday, June 6. The staff direction followed recommendations outlined by City staff on Thursday for a City minimum wage policy.

In a report presented to council, staff said that a municipal minimum wage is one of many tools that could be used to address the city’s economic and racial disparities. City leaders should remain focused on other issues as well, such as access to affordable housing, transportation, education, training and jobs, staff recommended.

The Council directed the City Attorney’s Office to draft a minimum wage ordinance with the following elements, as advised by staff:

  • To be consistent with State law, the minimum wage policy would apply to anyone who works in Minneapolis for any amount of time.
  • A universal minimum wage would be $15 an hour, indexed to inflation after the initial target wage is reached.
  • There should be no exception for tipped workers in the hospitality industry—all workers should be subject to the minimum wage, regardless of tips, consistent with the state policy.
  • A training wage may be paid to youth up to age 20 years for no more than 90 days consistent with state law.
  • The policy would have a tiered phase-in period that reaches a maximum wage of $15 an hour for large businesses four years after ordinance adoption and a longer period for smaller businesses, with consideration for up to three tiers of business size.
  • The City’s Department of Civil Rights should oversee enforcement of the municipal minimum wage ordinance.

Staff were also directed to report back to the City Council with recommendations on how to fund a regular review of the minimum wage policy, including an annual evaluation of the impact on the local economy, and further identify ways to support businesses, and small businesses in particular.

Moving forward, the council has set the following schedule to review the draft ordinance on a municipal minimum wage policy:

  • The City Attorney’s Office will present the draft ordinance at a special meeting of the council’s Committee of the Whole 3 p.m. Tuesday, June 6.
  • A public hearing will be held 3:30 p.m. Thursday, June 22 on the draft municipal minimum wage ordinance.
  • The final draft ordinance will be presented to the council’s Committee of the Whole 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 28. Any final revisions or amendments could be entertained before a final engrossed copy is prepared and submitted to the full City Council.
  • The full City Council will act on the final municipal minimum wage ordinance at its regular meeting 9:30 a.m. Friday, June 30.

The City Council directed City staff on Aug. 5, 2016 to present a recommendation for a minimum wage policy to the City Council’s Committee of the Whole by second quarter of 2017 after working with stakeholders, reviewing polices from other cities and reviewing the minimum wage study by the Roy Wilkins Center at the University of Minnesota.

From January through April 2017, City staff and a consultant team focused on community engagement and held 16 listening sessions with about 450 people; collected 1,759 survey responses as of May 7 and 115 emails comments as of May 19.

While many expressed a desire for all Minneapolis residents to have a high quality of life, there was disagreement about the role City government should play. Most people said a statewide or regional approach would be best in addressing a minimum wage increase. There was also an overwhelming sentiment that everyone has an interest in Minneapolis remaining a thriving and vibrant city for all.

Through the research efforts, staff concluded that nearly half of the city’s 300,000-plus workers are likely earning far less than a “living wage,” calculated by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) as $19.80 per hour for a family of three (two adults and one child) or $15.25 for a single person in Hennepin County. There are at least 71,000 workers (about one-quarter of Minneapolis workers) that struggle to pay for basic needs.

The City’s minimum wage discussion grew out of Mayor Betsy Hodges’ Working Families Agenda first discussed in 2014, which also included a proposal for the City’s Safe & Sick Time ordinance. For more information and a minimum wage comparative data tool, visit the City’s website on minimum wage: minneapolismn.gov/minimumwage.