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Minneapolis City Council Passes $15 Minimum Wage Without a Tip Consideration

Small restaurant owners and servers had hoped for a different outcome.

The mayor’s push for a raised minimum wage has passed.
Mayor Betsy Hodges Facebook page

The Minneapolis City Council voted Friday to pass a landmark $15 per hour minimum wage increase. No special allowances were made for tipped employees.

Minneapolis now joins Seattle, San Francisco and Washington D.C. , cities that have passed similar measures (though in D.C. there is an allowance made for a lower wage for tipped employees).

The wage increase comes after a contentious battle between small restaurant owners and servers with the unions and Mayor Betsy Hodges. The mayor wrote an open letter back in February in favor of the raise without what she deemed a “tip penalty.” She also made a controversial correlation between tipping and slavery.

Many independent restaurant owners like Lina Goh and John Ng of Zen Box Izakaya made impassioned pleas to consider tipped wages as income, while also agreeing that a minimum wage increase was a move in the right direction.

Meanwhile, other business owners like Jamie Robinson of Northbound Smokehouse warned that the steep increase would mean a death knell for many small businesses already operating on razor thin margins. In a statement released today by the Pathway to 15 group, Red Rabbit bartender Jennifer Schellenberg said, “The city council has failed tipped restaurant workers in Minneapolis. We took the time to advocate for a solution that would empower all workers in Minneapolis. Instead of listening to our concerns, the council moved forward with a proposal that will put our income and our jobs in jeopardy. We won't give up the fight but we remain disillusioned about how our concerns were dismissed for the sake of campaign politics.”

Council Member Lisa Bender championed the passage according to the Star Tribune, “This is a huge victory for works in Minneapolis.”

The one dissenting vote came from Council Member Blong Yang who expressed concerns about the ordinance’s affect on small businesses.

The Fight for $15 Now group also issued a statement saying, “Fifteen an hour has officially arrived in the heartland! It wasn’t easy, but after years of going on strike, taking to the streets and raising our voices for higher wages, we have finally won the raise we need. Getting paid $15/hour will help us pay for groceries, make the rent, and cover the basics without relying on public assistance. We’re proud that Minneapolis is the first city in the Midwest to pass $15/hour, but we promise it won’t be the last. This movement has momentum that can’t be stopped, and we’ll keep on standing up and speaking out until everyone, everywhere is paid at least $15/hour and has the right to join a union.”

The ordinance will go into effect citywide by 2024 with an accelerated implementation for large businesses.

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