September 12, 2018 06:39 PM
On Wednesday, those living and working in St. Paul will have their first chance to weigh in on the city's proposed minimum wage hike.
The hike is something city and community leaders have discussed for years, and which Mayor Melvin Carter has made a priority. In the past, Carter has said he's committed to raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour before the end of the year.
Non-profit organization Citizens League has developed three recommendations for how the city can raise the minimum wage.
Twenty-one community members, including business owners and hourly workers, have met more than a dozen times this summer. The majority favors a plan that calls for a $15 minimum wage, regardless of whether there's the potential to earn tips, that's implemented over the course of five years for large businesses and seven years for small businesses. Members of the Citizens League said they are leaving it up to city council members to determine what constitutes a large business versus a small business.
"Ultimately, the study committee suggested taking a head count measure but there are lots of other ways the city could decide to do it," member Angelica Klebsch said.
Wednesday morning the group 15 Now Minnesota held a rally outside St. Paul City Hall.
The group says $15 an hour is not a luxury, but a necessity, as many men, women and students work several jobs just to make ends meet.
"Some kids have to help their parents with like bills and stuff like that, and that's a hard thing to do especially like you're still in school and you're trying to find the right hours to work, that's a hard thing to do," said Cardell McKizzie.
"In our country and state we are seeing an ever widening gap between the wealthiest owners, they have more and more, and the rest of us have a lot less. This is why I am fighting for better wages in the restaurant industry, which is the fastest growing industry in the country actually, and consistently has some of the lowest wage jobs," added a recent Macalester College graduate who works as a serve in St. Paul.
Some business owners said it would take time and resources to implement this change.
"To get good servers, they want to make tips and they're making pretty good money, what I would consider good money, what they would consider good money so to pay them $15 an hour, we would need to change our entire structure," Sarah Remke, owner of Black Dog Cafe in St. Paul, said.
However, Remke said she supports a $15 minimum wage.
Carter said he's so far pleased with the progress of the study, which the city commissioned.
Wednesday night, the city council will have the opportunity to review and discuss the study before a public hearing. The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. at city hall.
Callan Gray & Rebecca Omastiak
Updated: September 12, 2018 06:39 PM
Created: September 12, 2018 05:43 AM
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