MCN Advocates for Nonprofits in Minimum Wage Discussion

The city of Saint Paul is currently discussing how to move to a $15 minimum wage. MCN sits at the table, convened by the Citizens League, working to craft a proposed draft ordinance. As we come to the end of this process, we wanted to provide information on how MCN works to ensure nonprofits are represented.

Why does MCN work on employment policies?

MCN’s public policy agenda is designed to support and advance the role of the nonprofit ecosystem. This consists of 80,000 dedicated staff, over 3,200 nonprofit organizations, and the millions of Minnesotans who engage with nonprofits every year through theaters, food shelves, hospitals, shelters, and more.

Nonprofits, as a whole, are a steady source of job growth and economic stability; an important part of strong, thriving communities. So MCN ensures the nonprofit sector is at the table when employment policies are discussed because a thriving Saint Paul requires both healthy individuals and healthy businesses (for profit and nonprofit).

What is MCNs overall position on the minimum wage?

MCN supports an increase to the minimum wage that applies to all employees. As a sector, we are already paying rates above 12.50 per hour with many parts of the sector paying over $15. Nonprofits report that they want to stay competitive, invest in committed staff, attract and keep qualified staff, and ensure that staff doesn’t need nonprofit social services themselves. One nonprofit leader stated, “raising the minimum wage is essential. Our staff struggle to make it financially themselves. We need to support work and an industry that pays a livable wage.”

We also hear repeatedly from nonprofits how increasing the minimum wage is one of many needed advancements to the well-being of society overall. About 40% of Saint Paul residents are at or below the poverty level. And, unsurprisingly, people of color disproportionately earn lower wages. Another nonprofit leader reported, “many people in the LGBTQ community are low income and would be positively impacted by a wage increase – especially trans people of color who have a greater disparity in both income and health.”

For the Saint Paul discussion, the wage of $15.00 is essentially decided so MCN was not part of determining or supporting any specific amount. But clearly, the current minimum wage of $9.50 has not kept up with the costs of even the most basic necessities of housing, childcare, and healthcare.

How is MCN thinking about implementation?

In 2017 and 2018, MCN conducted surveys, held listening sessions, and had numerous one-on-one conversations with members to understand the impact of an increase to the minimum wage. Given this extensive feedback, here are just a few of the pieces we are especially focusing on:  

·         Phase-in: MCN recognizes that any increase to the minimum wage will have an impact on many organizational budgets. So it’s important to have a phase-in time that allows nonprofits to adjust their budget to get additional funding or make other changes. Community members also express the importance of moving fast enough to account for any benefit cliff concerns.  

·         Program participants: Not for employees, but for nonprofits that pay program participants (disabled program participants or youth involved in narrow training programs), we have thoughtful ordinance language. 

·         Reimbursement rates: Wage increase must be accompanied with support from the city for an increase in government rates/contracts along with phase-in times.

·         Technical support/outreach: Funding must be included to provide small nonprofits with immediate on the ground support.

What’s next?

Saint Paul plans to move forward with a final ordinance by the end of 2018. There is still a lot of work that needs to happen and MCN will keep members updated. Much gratitude to the many impacted nonprofits who have provided data and feedback. As always, please feel free to reach out with any questions or comments! 

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