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Restaurants: Consider Tips In Setting Minimum Wage

ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — The topic of minimum wage served up conversation at the State Capitol on Tuesday.

Lawmakers are considering a bill that would significantly raise the state's minimum from $6.15 an hour to nearly $10 over the next two years.

Restaurant owners say they are not looking to reduce employee wages, what they want is a two-tiered system, that will keep employees who are tipped at the current minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

"As long as we can demonstrate that they are at least making $12 an hour with their claimed tips plus their base wage then that's when they would not make the new minimum wage," said J.J. Haywood, CEO of Pizza Luce.

President of the Minnesota Restaurant Association, Haywood wants state law to recognize that there is additional income in the form of tips for servers.

The MRA said an increase in minimum wage would be passed on to consumers -- in the form of higher prices.

Haywood said most tipped employees already make more than the proposed increase for minimum wage.

"We got surveys back from about 115 restaurants and that's what they reported -- more than $18 an hour statewide, more than $22 an hour in the metro with the tip plus wage," Haywood said.

Wade Luneburg with Unite Here MN disagrees.

"The minimum wage is meant to be just that -- the floor on wages and so the idea of this day and age in actually creating a sub minimum wage doesn't do anything to move people forward, it just leaves people behind," Luneburg said.

According to the bureau of labor statistics, most tipped employees make an average of $8.47 an hour.

Luneburg said increasing the minimum wage across the board would impact 25 percent of the workforce, who presently are not making a living wage.

Luneburg believes members on both sides of the aisles agree there should be an increase in the minimum wage, the question is how much and whether it will be tied to inflation.

Minimum wages bills are currently under consideration in the Minnesota House and Senate.

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