House passes lower minimum wage for tipped employees

Some waiters and other tipped workers could earn a wage lower than the state minimum, under a bill the House passed 78-55 late Monday.HF1027, sponsored by Rep. Pat Garofalo (R-Farmington), would set a minimum wage of $8 an hour for workers whose combined tips and wages come to $12 an hour or more during a one-week pay period.Lowering the wage would preserve waiter jobs at restaurants offering full table service, Garofalo said. “Right now, businesses that are doing table dining, we are providing a regulatory incentive for them to move to fast-casual.”[Watch the floor debate]The proposed lower-tier wage is a dollar less than the new $9 an hour minimum that goes into effect Aug. 1, 2015, as part of a law enacted last year stipulating a series of wage increases. Employees whose tips amount to less than $4 an hour during a work week would make the higher minimum wage. The bill would repeal a part of current statute that prohibits the counting of employee tips toward the minimum wage. The bill now goes to the Senate, where Sen. Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls) is the sponsor. Rep. Jason Metsa (DFL-Virginia) called the bill “wage theft” and said Republican backers of Garofalo’s minimum-wage bill were adopting Walmart’s “rollback” pricing policy.“Freezing wages for waiters and waitresses will not make our economy stronger,” said Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL-Golden Valley), calling the bill “a penalty on people who earn tips for their hard work.”Rep. Abigail Whelan (R-Anoka), citing her own experience as a barista as well as the service-industry work experience of her mother and sister, said the bill would help struggling restaurants and “keep as many people employed as possible.” After misguided minimum-wage increases, Rep. Glenn Gruenhagen (R-Glencoe) said HF1027 is “a step back in the right direction.”The House adopted Garofalo’s delete-all amendment 77-56. Continue Reading

Stadium update: Where are the true numbers?

It has been a while since we have talked about what is supposed to be the greatest employment story in the history of Minnesota: the new Vikings stadium, with its price tag of over a billion dollars and thousands of jobs.In terms of dollars added to the local economy, it is a success. In terms of jobs for Whites, it is a success. But in terms of jobs for Blacks, it is a disaster. Worse, it is another scam our Black leadership pulled on our own Black community.Black leaders are as corrupt as White leaders. Not the kind of integration and equality we were looking for. Continue Reading

Rights forum attacks racial income gap

Nearly 200 community members gathered at the Neighborhoods Organizing for Change office for a forum on workers’ rights in Minneapolis and throughout the state, including a need for earned sick and safe time, fair scheduling, a living wage, and ending wage theft on Saturday, February 28. “When I was working at McDonald’s, I had a baby and had to go back to work ten days later or lose my job–even though I had a C-section,” said Octancia Adams, an organizer with Neighborhoods Organizing for Change. “They wouldn’t give me paid time off. We need earned sick and safe time for all workers.”Rosa Garcia Perez, a cook at McDonald’s organizing with Centro de Trabajadores Unido en la Lucha (CTUL), spoke about the difficulties of raising a family in a low-wage job. “I have to work the overnight shift by myself–and sometimes I don’t even have time to go to the bathroom or drink water,” said Rosa. “I’m currently four months pregnant, so I need to do both of those things a lot. Continue Reading

Broad coalition ramps up pressure for action on transportation

 Concerned that state lawmakers won’t act to address Minnesota’s transportation needs, advocates delivered thousands of signatures to the state Capitol Feb. 12, after hearing a call to action from Governor Mark Dayton.“The real question comes down to: What kind of Minnesota do we want in 10 years?” Dayton asked a packed room where members of The Transportation Alliance and MoveMn had gathered for Transportation Day. The groups include labor unions, businesses, local governments and community organizations from across the state.“If you’re willing to accept things getting worse in 10 years . . . Continue Reading

Legislation would ensure workers are paid what they earn

ST. PAULWorkers can see their wages stolen in many ways: Not receiving the minimum wage or compensation for overtime. Not receiving their final paycheck after leaving a job. Not being paid at all.Home care worker Robin Pikala was owed nearly $2,000 when her employer, Crystal Care Home Health Services, shut down last year. Retail cleaner Maria Briones was victimized twice by unscrupulous employers – to the tune of $7,000. Continue Reading