Business & Economy

Supreme Court upholds Minneapolis minimum wage

Protesters chant before the council meeting.
Protesters chant before the Minneapolis City Council meeting in August 2016 before discussion of a city-wide $15 an hour minimum wage. The Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the city of Minneapolis' authority to impose a minimum wage that's higher than the state's.
Christopher Juhn for MPR News 2016

In a unanimous decision on Wednesday, the Minnesota Supreme Court upheld the $15 an hour minimum wage ordinance in Minneapolis.

The manufacturing and supplies company Graco challenged the measure, arguing that the state's minimum wage, which is lower, should preempt the city's. Graco argued it would create a patchwork of compensation standards because of the state's $10 minimum wage for large businesses.

But the Supreme Court said in its ruling that the “Legislature did not intend to occupy the field of minimum-wage rates” and because the city’s rate would not prevent employers from complying with the lower state rate, Minneapolis’ ordinance could stand.

Veronica Mendez Moore with the labor rights group CTUL praised the court decision.

"Corporations have continued to try to figure out loopholes and carve-outs and ways to get around this, and this is the moment where finally that door is closed and we say let's move on,” she said. “Workers have rights, and they've spoken out, they've demanded them and they won."

Minneapolis became the first Midwestern city to adopt a $15 per hour minimum wage when the City Council approved the measure in 2017.

The ordinance phases gradually in wage hikes until it peaks in 2024. Large employers must pay $15 an hour by July 1, 2022. St. Paul is also phasing in a $15 an hour minimum wage.

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