In 2014, Democrats passed legislation to raise the state’s minimum wage to $9.50 per hour over a phased-in period. Minimum wage will begin to be indexed to inflation in 2018. If economic indicators are suggesting a downturn in the economy, the commissioner has the discretion to suspend the inflation increase after consulting with the commissioner of management and budget.
Remove the minimum wage inflator
The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce has argued that the inflation adjustment is government on autopilot. The Chamber also believes that an important issue like the minimum wage should be reviewed by the legislature, not enacted by an agency.
- By including inflation, the DFL eliminated the need to revisit this issue and allow businesses to plan long term for their expenses instead of making knee jerk adjustments to the minimum wage rate.
- Before the passage of the minimum wage increase Minnesota had one of the lowest minimum wages in the nation. In fact, Minnesota’s minimum wage, at $6.15 per hour, was one of only four states in the country with a minimum wage below the national rate of $7.25 per hour which is why an inflation adjustment is so important when the costs of goods are increasing.
- The DFL recognized that the cost of goods and services increase every year. Yet, rarely do political leaders have the stomach to adjust the minimum wage to ensure workers can meet their basic needs to keep up with the cost of goods and services.
Republicans will attempt to establish a tip credit in Minnesota at the behest of the Minnesota Hospitality Association. Organizations supporting business interests, especially in the hospitality industry, may push to include a tip credit in the minimum wage calculation. A tip credit allows an employer of tipped employees to pay a rate less than the minimum wage by considering all or a portion of tips received to be counted toward an employee’s total hourly wage.
- The DFL understood that previous proposals have not just affected the restaurant industry but would have hurt all tipped employees (cosmetologists, hair stylists, barbers, etc.). The legislature needs to contemplate what a tip credit would mean beyond the restaurant industry.
- Servers pay their bills or go to college using tip money. Given the increased costs of higher education, many Minnesotans are dependent on these types of jobs to pay expenses related to college or making ends meet.
Pre-emption (State overrides power of cities)
Republicans will attempt to eliminate the ability of cities to establish their own employment benefit requirements for business operating within its jurisdiction. Businesses with operations in multiple localities argue that the new mandates developed by Minneapolis and St. Paul place a heavy burden on them.
- The DFL believes that workers deserve adequate benefits to live healthy lives and raise a family. Without these minimum standards, workers would suffer and would further stress the fragile safety net taxpayers’ fund.
- The DFL trusts local units of government and their citizens to make their own decisions regarding these important issues. At this time, only Minneapolis and St. Paul have established benefits sets outside of what the state requires.
- It would be imprudent for the legislature to weigh in when there is an ongoing court case that will address this very issue.
- The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and other business groups have sued the City of Minneapolis arguing, “Plaintiffs bring this action seeking: (1) a declaration that the recently enacted “Minneapolis Sick and Safe Time Ordinance” (the “Minneapolis Ordinance” or “Ordinance”) is invalid because the Ordinance conflicts with and is preempted by state law; and (2) an injunction prohibiting the Ordinance from going into effect or being enforced.
- As a result of the Chamber’s argument it is unclear why further clarification or law changes are warranted.
The Republicans have always had an interest in eliminating the eight-hour work day or more than 40 hours a week overtime pay requirement to only include a 40-hour work week. The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce has supported this change in the past, calling it financially prudent.
- The DFL has opposed this measure in the past because it is something that can be bargained for as part of a labor contract. Additionally, the DFL has always supported employees being compensated for their work.
- The DFL never instituted this change because it harms the paycheck of workers for the benefit of the bottom line of a company. Growing businesses and increasing the pay of workers does not have to be an adversarial relationship.
Right to work
Republicans across the country, and even in Minnesota, have attempted to enact legislation to become right to work states.
A “Right to Work” law would make all union dues voluntary (including fair share), which would result in workers freeloading by receiving the same benefits as those who pay dues to negotiate a labor contract. If a worker decides to not join a union, the union is still obligated to represent the employee in any grievance or wrongful termination case. In effect, it is getting something for nothing. Financially, it will starve unions.
- The DFL and labor unions have opposed “Right to Work” because it would hurt all families across Minnesota, even those who do not belong to a union. States that are “Right to Work” generally have lower hourly wages, salaries, and benefits. In many cases, states with “Right to Work” laws do not perform as well in education, income equality, and health care coverage.
Dislocated Worker Program
The Republicans will try to amend the law to ensure certain workers (party campaign staff) are not allowed to receive dislocated workers benefits. The Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) makes the eligibility determination for the Dislocated Worker Program based on law. DEED has determined that some campaign workers may qualify for the Dislocated Workers Program. Senators had no input into this decision and have not been involved at any level.
- All workers terminated from their employment at no fault of their own should have access to these important services (job training, skills enhancements, and resume assistance) to ensure they do not end up needing the state safety net that all taxpayers fund. Getting people gainfully employed after a separation is beneficial to everyone including the worker, taxpayers and the state.
- The DFL believes citizens, regardless of their political beliefs, should be able to participate in government and its services as our laws dictate. This upcoming session, we look forward to debating Republicans about services being withheld from workers because of their political beliefs.
Paid Family Leave
Please see State and Local Government section.