Mark Dayton confuses own children for cop lobby, wants to let them rewrite minimum wage law

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Many Minnesotans were vexed by Mark Dayton when he proclaimed that he would veto any medical cannabis bill that didn’t pass muster with cop lobbyists like Dennis Flaherty. Citizens objected to the notion that law enforcement would write law, not enforce it.

But many progressives were willing to turn a blind eye to that issue–and accept a highly restrictive medical cannabis law–because the Governor was forging ahead with an agenda that would help raise the well-being of working families, like raising the minimum wage. At one point in 2013, Dayton actually talked about “settling” for a $9.50 per hour wage, while he preferred a higher minimum.

Perhaps they breathed easy too soon.

At the Rochester Post Bulletin’s Political Notebook, Heather Carlson reports in Dayton says minimum wage may need to be ‘fine tuned’:

DFL Gov. Mark Dayton said the recently passed $9.50 minimum wage increase might need to be revisited in the future.

During an interview with the Post-Bulletin’s Editorial Board last week, Dayton said his sons Andrew and Eric Dayton have been making the case that tipped employees should be treated differently. His sons own the Minneapolis restaurant “The Bachelor Farmer.”

“It may be that we have to fine tune it. I understand my sons’ frustration with the tip credit issue. They make a very articulate case,” he said.

During the legislative session, the Minnesota Restaurant Association had pushed hard for a tiered tipped employee system. Under that proposal, an employee whose wages and tips equaled at least $12 per hour would be paid at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. Dayton said his sons have said that the minimum wage increase means their wait staff will be making significantly more per hour than the dishwashers and other staff.

“In the real world of how this affects real business owners, I think we have to be aware of that,” Dayton said.

The legislature rejected the tip credit in the complicated negotiations leading up to the deal that landed on his desk. And since the minimum wage is being raised for all workers–and servers and busboys–and Minnesota had no tip credit before–we’re puzzled how the latest increase created the gap between what servers and other staff make. But if the Dayton sons need this, perhaps it’s time to start saving your pennies.

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Such an attitude might not rest well with the unions whose members helped Dayton win the 2010 election over Republican opponent Tom Emmer, who made some truly mind-numbingly awkward statements about the tip credit.

While Emmer was advocating a much lower tip credit then than Dayton is now, the remarks surely will come as a slap to the face to servers like the worker quoted by UNITE HERE Local 17 President Nancy Goldman, who wrote in a 2013 article in the Union Advocate, Increase the minimum wage without penalizing servers:

Minnesota is one of only seven states that does not have “tip credit” or Tip Penalty laws. Minnesota minimum wage was last increased in 2007. As the current legislators look to increase our state minimum wage, which is among the lowest in the country, Hospitality Minnesota, the restaurant employers association, is once again trying to find a way to keep from paying that wage to servers and bartenders, using the same arguments that have proven to be untrue in the past. . . .

One member of our union, UNITE HERE Local 17, recently testified at several minimum wage hearings. Here’s what Nicole Hilgendorf, a server and member of the union, told lawmakers:

“I am a server, and have been on and off for the past 8 years. I started serving while enrolled in college in Wisconsin. Because there is ‘tip penalty’ in that state, my hourly wage was $2.33 per hour. I barely received a paycheck from my employer, as my hourly earnings were just enough to cover taxes on my tips. Therefore, any take home income I received was entirely dependent on tips from customers. On busy nights, this did not bother me much, but on slow nights, this was extremely problematic. . . .

. . . .“In closing, I would like to remind you that minimum wage is not a livable wage. Tipped employees are not wealthy, nor are they greedy in asking for fair compensation. We are just trying to make a living like everyone else.”

What clever deal will Dayton come up with next? This rivals his sharp trading with the Wilfs on the stadium and wih the cops on cutting 33,000 people out of access to medical cannabis.