Minnesota unions are keeping the pressure on state lawmakers to pass a meaningful minimum-wage hike before the Legislature adjourns next week, despite increasing signals from Senate leaders the issue – a top priority for the state’s largest labor federation, the Minnesota AFL-CIO, heading into the 2013 session – may be a lost cause.
“Hard work should pay for all Minnesotans and a minimum wage increase would ensure that low-wage workers are part of Minnesota’s economic recovery,” Minnesota AFL-CIO President Shar Knutson said. “We’re not going to give up on them.”
Both the House and Senate have passed bills to increase the minimum wage, but they differ significantly. The House bill, which unions prefer, would increase the minimum wage to $9.50 over the course of three years and adjust it annually for inflation.
The Senate bill would increase the minimum wage to $7.75 over three years, a measure Knutson said “falls short” of making a meaningful difference in low-wage workers’ lives. Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, however, has indicated there may not be support in his caucus for a compromise bill that would raise the wage any higher.
In response, Knutson issued the following statement today: “If the Legislature adjourns without a meaningful minimum wage increase this year, it will be extremely disappointing to hundreds of thousands of low-wage workers who could use a raise and the countless small businesses that would have benefitted from increased consumer spending.”
She also pointed to a Star Tribune Minnesota Poll showing broad support for increasing the state’s minimum wage, with 41 percent supporting the House’s $9.50 per hour bill.
“Frankly, it’s surprising that an issue so popular with Minnesotans has essentially stalled this session,” Knutson added.