St. Paul City Council passes $15 minimum wage, Mayor Carter signs ordinance into law

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The St. Paul City Council voted Wednesday to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour and the ordinance passed unanimously. Shortly after, Mayor Melvin Carter signed the ordinance. 

"I believe we have created a strong policy that is going to help the lives of people," said Chris Tolbert, a council member. "People who are working hard should not be living in poverty this is an ordinance that will very real tangible benefits to the people of our city and put them in more stable footing and move them closer to a living wage."

The phase-in period for the pay increase starts in 2020. Depending on the size of the business, the transition period will vary. For example, larger businesses will need to reach $15 per hour by 2022, while smaller businesses will have a longer phase-in period.

The plan received the unanimous approval of the City Council, but many restaurant owners are unhappy the current plan would require an increase in base pay, even for those who make tips. 

"People in poverty in our community are the restaurant workers in the back: the cooks, the busers the hosts," said Jennifer Schellenberg, a restaurant worker. "All those people are going to sit with stagnant wages until 2027 under this ordinance, while I, the tipped worker, see a raise every year. The highest paid people are getting raises and that’s a detriment. We are furthering the divide."

Minneapolis passed its citywide $15 minimum wage last year without a tip credit, meaning wait staff will continue to see an increase in their base pay on top of their tips.