$15 minimum wage passes Minneapolis City Council

The Minneapolis City Council voted Friday to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. The full council voted 11-1 in favor of the ordinance. Blong Yang, representing the north side's Ward 5, was the only "no" vote.

A capacity crowd in the city council chambers erupted in cheers and held their signs over their heads after wage increase passage was announced.

“This is a new day to be celebrated,” Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said, prior to the final vote.

After the Committee of the Whole passed an amendment earlier in the week, the change will be slowly phased-in over several years. Large businesses with more than 100 employees will have five years to implement the change, while small businesses will have seven. By 2024, all workers in Minneapolis will be making at least $15 an hour.

Phase-in schedule for $15 minimum wage

Jan. 1, 2018: $10 (large businesses), no increase (small businessses)
July 1, 2018: $11.25 (large), $10.25 (small)
July 1, 2019: $12.25 (large), $11 (small)
July 1, 2020 $13.25 (large), $11.75 (small)
July 1, 2021 $14.25 (large), $12.50 (small)
July 1, 2022 $15 (large), $13.50 (small)
July 1, 2023 $15 indexed to inflation (large), $14.50 (small)
July 1, 2024 $15 indexed to inflation (large), $15 (small)

What supporters say

Supporters of raising the minimum wage argued it's a path toward a living wage for all workers. A report from the State of Minnesota released earlier this year found nearly 250,000 hourly workers in Minnesota currently earn $9.50 or less.

"Today’s vote, while historic, is just another step in our unending journey to build a better city," said Councilman Abdi Warsame, representing Ward 6, which includes the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood.

What opponents say

But, opponents say a $15 minimum wage will raise costs and put pressure on businesses to cut worker's hours in order to cut costs. Councilman Yang voiced concerns that the increase would negatively affect immigrant and minority-owned businesses in his ward, and potentially drive businesses out of the city.

What else you need to know

The ordinance covers the city Minneapolis only. The ordinance also includes a private "cause of action," which allows employees to file a civil lawsuit for violations of the ordinance. 

There is still some unfinished business. The council passed a measure directing city staff to analyze how youth job training programs should be accounted for in the minimum wage ordinance and report back to the Committee of the Whole by September 2017. The council also called for an external study of minimum wage in Minneapolis and present initial funding plans to the Committee of the Whole on July 19, 2017.