Pressure Rises as Minn. Minimum Wage Talks Resume

Updated: 03/25/2014 7:42 PM KSTP.com By: Jennie Olson

In this April 29, 2013, file photo Lyle Cafe owner Barbara Johnson of Winthrop, Minn., speaks in support of a bill to raise Minnesota's minimum wage.
In this April 29, 2013, file photo Lyle Cafe owner Barbara Johnson of Winthrop, Minn., speaks in support of a bill to raise Minnesota's minimum wage.
Photo: Photo: AP/Jim Mone, File

Unions are ramping up pressure on Minnesota lawmakers to strike a deal on the minimum wage.

A House-Senate conference committee held its first public session since early March. The room was packed Tuesday with public employee union members, who also held a rally about the minimum wage and other priorities. They are working to convince Democratic lawmakers, who control both chambers, to break a logjam on the wage issue.

There seems to be consensus about raising the state's minimum wage from $6.15 per hour to $9.50 per hour. How fast remains a point of discussion. There's also a dispute about whether to automatically hike the wage in future years to account for inflation.

The House offer would raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour for large employers and $7.75 an hour for small employers.

The wage would go up gradually each year, until August of 2016. It also establishes a training wage of $7.75 an hour. Senate DLFers proposed raising it to $9.50 an hour for all workers.

The conference committee is slated to meet again Thursday.

Senate Democrats have said they lack the votes to pass a bill with an automatic bump later on.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.