The minimum wage in Minnesota stands at $6.15 an hour and has not been raised in nearly a decade. The federal minimum wage stands about a dollar an hour above this and is used as a standard for most hourly positions. Tim Pugmire at MPR reported yesterday that the Minnesota House of Representatives is set to vote on an increase in the state minimum wage, raising it to $9.50 per hour. The chief author of the bill is Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL – 46A) of Golden Valley. The story has a quote from Winkler:
“Sixty-plus percent of the workers making minimum wage are age 25 and older,” Ryan told members of the House Ways and Means Committee on Monday. “Over 50 percent of them are using their income to support families.
“These are not teenage jobs,” he said. “These are jobs that people are using and working in to support families across the state of Minnesota, not just in greater Minnesota but in the metro area as well.”
This bill is a good start, but still does not go far enough in raising the minimum wage so that people in these types of jobs can survive. If the minimum wage was actually tied to inflation it would be up to $10.56 by now, according to the National Employment Law Project. According to Pugmire’s story the bill will also include changes to current employment law in Minnesota, extending the amount of time a parent can leave work by twice the current amount (six weeks). The bill would also lower the time employees can reach the brink of overtime to 40 hours. These provisions are a source of controversy among some MN House members and it remains to be seen how the bill will ultimately shake out after its reconciliation with the MN Senate. Still, it is a step forward toward more parity for all of those Minnesotans who work these types of low-wage jobs to provide for their families. Pugmire did manage to include a clueless statement from Rep. Denny McNamara (R – 54B) of Hastings that echoed former gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer’s “rich server “ line from 2010:
“Doggone it,” McNamara said. “Why do you want to give the waiter and the waitress, who’s making 22 bucks and hour now, another raise, and the cook and the busboy and the cleaning staff get jilted again?”
It remains to be seen which restaurants Rep. McNamara has been visiting in which the waitresses make $22 an hour. Thankfully such nonsense should not be prevalent as the DFL-controlled statehouse votes on this bill in the coming days. It is only fair to the many minimum wage workers in this state who have not seen their pay keep up with inflation.