Saint Paul Passes $15 Minimum Wage Ordinance in Unanimous Vote

The Saint Paul City Council unanimously approved a $15 minimum-wage ordinance Thursday, which was quickly signed into law by Mayor Melvin Carter.

“Today’s vote is the culmination of years of incredible leadership from Council Members, workers, business leaders and advocates, all working together to provide a much-needed raise to over 56,000 Saint Paul workers,” Carter said in a Thursday press release.

Carter, who said he “couldn’t be more honored to sign this ordinance into law,” had seemingly already made up his mind on the issue several months ago. As The Minnesota Sun reported in September, Carter said that the issue was “already decided” after a public meeting to discuss the ordinance.

The “15 Now Minnesota” organization has been holding protests in favor of the ordinance since 2014, and celebrated its “victory” on Thursday.

“This is a historic victory for working people and shows that we beat back the corporate agenda by building grassroots movements. We will strengthen the policy in the coming weeks by improving language around franchises and enforcement,” the group said in a statement Thursday.

“The victories in Saint Paul, Minneapolis, and Seattle show the strength working people can have when we come together and fight. Just a few years ago a $15 minimum wage was called outlandish. Now look where we are,” the organization added.

Minnesota Attorney General-elect Keith Ellison congratulated Carter and “the thousands of workers who fought for this victory.”

“It’s simple: in a nation as prosperous as ours, a full-time job should lift workers out of poverty, not keep them in it,” Ellison wrote on Twitter.

The issue of a statewide minimum-wage increase became a point of contention during Minnesota’s gubernatorial race after Gov.-elect Tim Walz seemingly flip-flopped on the issue. During a press conference in October, Walz called the idea of a statewide $15 minimum wage “aspirational,” but later clarified on Twitter that he fully supports the idea.

When Rep.-elect Angie Craig (D-MN-02) was asked about a federal $15 minimum wage during a debate, she called the question “unfair,” but later noted that she supports “working toward a federal minimum wage of $15 an hour.”

Both Saint Paul and Minneapolis have now passed a $15 minimum wage ordinance, with the former set to begin its phase-in period in 2020. The Saint Paul City Council has set a target date of July 1, 2022 for the ordinance to go into effect city-wide.

“Over the past year, we have worked in partnership with folks who live and work across Saint Paul,” City Council President Amy Brendmoen said Thursday. “The community-driven process has resulted in a policy that is the right choice for our city. Together we move Saint Paul forward by increasing the minimum wage.”

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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]





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