Dear Mayor Carter, City Council, and City Staff,
In light of the Citizens League Study Committee’s recommendations, it’s clearer than ever that the city should move forward with raising the minimum wage to $15 with no tip penalty as soon as possible. The recommendations confirm that the policy that workers have championed for more than a year is right for Saint Paul.
We echo the Committee’s sentiment that wages in Saint Paul must increase. The crisis of poverty and inequality is damaging our schools, our health, and our families, and raising the minimum wage to $15 for all workers is a key step towards ensuring the healthy, dignified life that all Saint Paul families deserve.
The Committee’s rejection of a tip penalty or lower minimum wage for tipped workers aligns with the growing national consensus that all workers need a living wage as a base, with tips on top, to reduce poverty and harassment in the restaurant industry. We’re proud to see Saint Paul stand with workers rights and maintain One Fair Wage.
Maintaining similar administrative provisions as Minneapolis is good policy that reduces the burden on employers and makes enforcement and self-advocacy easier for workers. We celebrate the Committee’s decision not to leave additional categories of Saint Paul workers behind their Minneapolis counterparts with additional carve-outs and exemptions, but we regret the recommendation to extend the period of exemption for young workers in training programs. Saint Paul residents have expressed a clear preference for a $15 minimum wage that doesn’t leave any workers in our city behind.
The Committee’s proposed phase-in makes good sense by synchronizing the Twin Cities economies around a common timeline, giving small businesses adequate time to adapt while also getting all workers a much-needed raise as quickly as possible. Getting every Saint Paul worker on track with the Minneapolis phase-in is the simplest and most practical timeline, and is broadly supported by Saint Paul residents.
While it wasn’t specifically part of the Committee’s charge, we want to emphasize the Committee’s strong support for deepening the conversation about outreach and enforcement. It will be crucial for the city to be proactive in developing mechanisms, allocating appropriate resources and partnering with the community to engage workers and small business owners and ensure our $15 minimum wage is implemented as smoothly as possible.
Our coalition represents tens of thousands of working families in Saint Paul. Inspired by Mayor Carter’s clear vision for a $15 minimum wage with no tip penalty to be implemented as soon as possible, the public voted in support of his agenda. Last week, voters reaffirmed the broad public support for $15 One Fair Wage in the election of Councilmember Nelson. Saint Paul residents have rallied and marched, met with councilmembers, made calls, and continued to build a movement for $15 One Fair Wage. The Citizens League’s recommendation affirms that this is the right policy for Saint Paul.
We look forward to celebrating Saint Paul’s $15 One Fair Wage ordinance with you by the end of the year.
15 Now Minnesota
AFSCME Council 5
Asian American Organizing Project
Communication Workers of America MN State Council
CTUL- Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha
East Side Freedom Library
Hmong Americans for Justice
Minnesota Nurses Association
Restaurant Opportunities Center
Saint Paul Federation of Teachers
Saint Paul Regional Labor Federation
SEIU MN State Council
Teamsters Local 320
UNITE HERE! Local 17
UFCW Local 1189