Minneapolis residents weigh in on proposed wage theft ordinance

Members of the public had the opportunity to weigh in on a proposed ordinance that would prevent wage theft in Minneapolis Monday afternoon.

The hearing was set in front of the city council’s Public Health, Environment, Civil Rights and Engagement Committee. It came two months after state legislators passed a law making wage theft a crime.

The proposed ordinance would target Minneapolis employers who underpay or refuse to pay workers what they have earned.

Between 2005 and 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor found that Minneapolis employers violated the Fair Labor Standards Act more than 5,000 times.

According to the city of Minneapolis, that amounts to more than $2.7 million in unpaid wages.

Councilors heard from supporters and those opposed to the ordinance Monday.

“Anybody who stands against this ordinance is, in a sense, spitting in the face of the people who are holding their hand out in front of them,” said one commenter. “We ask that penalties applied under this ordinance are not cumulative with state penalties and we would urge you to consider a penalty structure that reflects the burden on small business owners.”

Earlier this month, a coalition of Minneapolis business leaders asked the city to hold off on the measure, arguing the ordinance may cause confusion.

The committee approved the proposal today. The ordinance now heads to the full council for a vote.