A group of Minnesota restaurant owners sent a proposal this week to Governor Mark Dayton to freeze the hourly minimum wage of tipped workers. According to Fox 21, members of the Minnesota Restaurant Association want to keep the minimum wage for servers and other tipped employees at $8 per hour — the current minimum wage — if the employees make at least $12 per hour when their wages and tips are combined. The proposal is in response to the upcoming increase in the state's minimum wage which will jump to $9 per hour this August, and then will go up to $9.50 per hour in August 2016.
The Minnesota Restaurant Association argues that keeping the tipped minimum wage at $8 will allow them to pay non-tipped employees, such as cooks and dishwashers, higher salaries. Plus, the members say it is challenging to keep giving their highest paid-employees raises. Tory Boen — a spokesperson for Grandma's Restaurant Company in Duluth — tells WDIO: "It's difficult for small, family restaurants to pay employees more and more when they're already earning tips, and often it forces restaurants to cut back elsewhere." Local restaurateur Carol Valentini adds, "This tiered wage is really going to help all of us, it's going to allow these servers to keep their jobs," because then restaurants will not be forced to cut servers' hours.
A number of cities and states have raised or are considering raising their minimum wage. Just yesterday, the Los Angeles City council voted 13-1 in favor of increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour, making it one step closer to becoming a law. In April, Seattle's City Council increased the hourly minimum wage to $15 per hour, too. While this is good news for fast food workers who have been protesting for a livable wage, many restaurateurs worry that this is bad news for the industry and will force restaurants to raise prices and cut back on staff. Go watch the local Minnesota news story below: