Saint Paul bumps pay to $15 minimum wage, not everyone happy

“It’s going result in less jobs, less hours."

Edgar Linares
November 14, 2018 - 7:48 pm

By Edgar Linares

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It was a unanimous vote by the St. Paul City Council Wednesday afternoon to raise the City’s minimum wage to $15 an hour, joining other cities like Minneapolis and Seattle.

"Today’s vote is the culmination of years of incredible leadership form the Council Members, workers, business leaders and advocates, all working together to provide a much needed raise to over 56,000 Saint Paul workers,” said Mayor Melvin Carter.

The first phase of the wage increase begins January 1, 2020, and by 2022, all business in St Paul must pay their employees at least $15 an hour.

For minimum wage workers like Ben Field, who works at Taco Bell in St. Paul, it means he can begin to save money and create some financial stability. Right now, he makes $10.50 an hour.

“I’m working 40, 45 hours a week and I’m able to afford my rent, I’m able to afford groceries, and I’m not able to afford not much more than that,” said Field. “It’s pretty tight; I’m living paycheck to paycheck.”

Not everyone at the City Council meeting on Wednesday was happy with the change, tipped employees like; bartenders and servers said the ordinance should have included an adjustment for tipped employees.

A tip credit adjustment allows an employer with tipped employees to pay their staff less than the hourly minimum wage, as long as the employee’s regular wages combined with their tips received equal or exceed the minimum wage.

"We’re the minimum waged tipped workers that said give everybody else fifteen, keep us at the state minimum we don’t need the raise,” said Jeffrey Crandall, a bartender at Eagle Street Grill in St. Paul.

Crandall said he fought for a tip credit to stop the impact to his industry.

“It’s going result in less jobs, less hours, it’s going to result in the locally owned smaller mom and pop shops closing. If they’re financially able, they’ll move to another city. Changing business models, a lot of counter service,” said Crandall.

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter signed the measure shortly after the city council passed it.