OPINION | Where have you gone, Floyd B.?

As I walked past the portrait of Floyd B. Olson in the Capitol Friday (March 27), I could swear I saw the state’s first Farmer-Labor governor cover his face with his hands.The Senate Business, Industry and Jobs Committee had just tabled a measure to reduce the minimum wage for some workers, but not before several DFL members extinguished what remained of Olson’s legacy. For years, Republicans have proffered legislation to allow employers to pay below the minimum wage for workers who receive tips – mostly waiters and waitresses. And for years, the labor movement has fought these efforts to penalize those workers who smile and hustle in the hopes of earning a few extra dollars from a grateful customer. Advocates of the legislation refer to it as “tip credit.” Unions and workers call it by its rightful name – a “tip penalty” on those folks who happen to work in the hospitality industry. Republicans were most often out front on the legislation, so it came as a surprise to many in the labor movement when this year’s version was sponsored by a DFLer, Senator Kathy Saltzman of Woodbury. Continue Reading