Restaurants fighting to stop minimum wage hike

Minnesota restaurant owners say raising the state's minimum wage to $9.50 an hour would hurt their businesses and cost some of their employees their jobs.

Restaurants will spend money on technology to reduce wait staff if they have to pay a higher minimum wage, Doug Sams, founder of D. Brian's Deli, said Tuesday. Customers will also pay more, he added.

Sams spoke to reporters at Murray's steakhouse in Minneapolis as part of the Minnesota Restaurant Association's effort to stop a wage hike bill. Restaurateurs invited state lawmakers to 20 restaurants around Minnesota to tell them how increasing the minimum wage would hurt them and drive up prices for customers.

Raising the wage is a top priority for Democrats going into the 2014 Legislative session. Last year the Minnesota House passed a bill to raise the wage to $9.50. The Senate passed a bill to raise it to $7.75 but lawmakers were unable to agree on a compromise. DFL Gov. Mark Dayton says he supports the $9.50 level.

Also on Tuesday, five DFL state representatives said they will try to live on a low-income budget this week to draw attention to the effort to raise the minimum wage. They'll make decisions on food, transportation and other personal expenses based on an income at the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

The author of the House minimum wage increase bill, DFL Rep. Ryan Winkler of Golden Valley, said his goal is to get an increase passed within the first two weeks of the 2014 session, which begins next Tuesday.

MPR News reporter Tim Pugmire contributed to this story.

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.