Dayton calls for airport pay bump

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Gov. Mark Dayton called for a higher minimum wage for airport workers during an appearance at a Muslim American Society of Minnesota event. Tim Pugmire|MPR News

Gov. Mark Dayton wants the lowest paid workers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport to get a raise.

Dayton said Wednesday that he will urge the Metropolitan Airports Commission to establish a $10 an hour minimum wage for all airport workers, beginning immediately.

The current state minimum is $8, with scheduled increases to bring it to $9.50 by 2016.

During a speech at a Muslim American Society of America event near the Capitol, Dayton said airport workers deserve to earn a higher wage.

“The airport industry can afford it,” Dayton said. "One thing about raising the minimum wage at the airport is there’s not going to be a threat to pick it up and move it to South Dakota or to China or to somewhere else. It’s our airport. It’s a public entity and public facility. It ought to better reflect our values as a citizenry.”

Dayton said his proposal was inspired by economic struggles of Ibrahim Mohamed, the minimum-wage earning airport worker he appointed a MAC commissioner last month. Mohamed, of Rosemount, is married with five children.

Legislation moving through the Minnesota House would prevent local units of government from enacting a minimum wage that is different from the state minimum wage.

Rep. Tony Albright, R-Prior Lake, is the bill’s sponsor. Albright said private employers with multiple locations should have certainty about their labor costs.

“We have a state minimum wage, and that should be sufficient and satisfactory,” Albright said.

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