In city hearings, Minneapolis residents discuss thoughts on minimum wage

The City of Minneapolis is holding a series of at least 10 neighborhood meetings to get feedback before a possible vote in May.

On Jan. 26, community members gathered at Brian Coyle as part of the citys community listening sessions to address the possible minimum wage increase in Minneapolis. 

On Jan. 26, community members gathered at Brian Coyle as part of the city’s community listening sessions to address the possible minimum wage increase in Minneapolis. 

by Mike Hendrickson

In order to understand how Minneapolitans feel about minimum wage, city officials are going to the source.

Officials met with residents Tuesday at the All My Relations Gallery on East Franklin Avenue for the fifth in a series of discussions throughout Minneapolis. Each hearing has targeted a different community, like the Native American community Tuesday and the East African community in late January.

The last hearing session is planned for March 3, but Deputy City Coordinator Nuria Rivera-Vandermyde said more could be added.

The goal of the hearings is to find what specific groups in Minneapolis feel should be done about the city’s minimum wage.

After the hearings, the consultants the city contracted will present their findings to the City Council, which will determine next steps in May.

“The end goal was to have a real, more robust, fulsome discussion with the community on both ends,” said Ward 11 Councilman John Quincy. “It’s looking at what’s all being brought in before something is being recommended by staff for city council consideration.”

Quincy was among those who spoke at Tuesday’s listening session. Others included Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis and members of the advocacy group 15 Now Minnesota.

The hearing was one of the least attended, said Luke Weisberg, senior partner at LukeWorks.

Weisberg is one of the city’s consultants and has attended every listening session, often presenting on minimum wage studies and fielding attendees’ questions.

The results have been positive so far, as both sides have been represented at the meetings in civil discussions, Weisberg said.

“We want to reach people in lots of different corners of the city with lots of different perspectives,” he said.

Rivera-Vandermyde said these minimum wage listening sessions are similar to ones held when the city debated adopting paid sick leave policies.

A recommendation for paid sick leave came in March, and the policy was passed in May, she said.

The city’s minimum wage hearings relied on an October study it commissioned from the Roy Wilkins Center for Human Relations and Social Justice.

The study examined how a $12 an hour and $15 an hour minimum wages would affect Minneapolis differently. It also looked at what effect a new wage may have on neighboring cities, tipped workers and youth.

“[Minimum wage is] a big issue that’s coming forward,” Rivera-Vandermyde said. “Part of what we want to be informed by is the community so that we go into it not just academically but with some well-rounded information.”

The study found that almost 15 percent of workers in Minneapolis would benefit from the minimum wage being raised to $12 an hour and nearly 23 percent would benefit if it were raised to $15 an hour.

Its conclusions on whether an increase in the minimum wage would cause unemployment were inconclusive.

“What we learned in the study most of all was to ask more questions about stuff we need to know,” Quincy said.

After the findings from the hearings are presented to the city council, it will vote in May on how to move forward.

“They may study it for a while. They may direct us right then and there to create an ordinance,” Rivera-Vandermyde said. “We don’t really know exactly what’s going to happen after May.”