Among the many mysteries of the universe is what “Minnesota Nice” actually means.
Typically, it doesn’t really matter, but the term was used in today’s Star Tribune to explain why a restaurant lobbying group is trying to get the state to roll back elements of last year’s minimum wage increase.
One restaurant owner in Lake City said the wait staff is making up to $18-$20 an hour (factoring in tips on top of the minimum wage), while the kitchen staff is making only minimum wage.
Under the increase that Dayton signed last year, Minnesota’s minimum wage rose to $8 an hour last August. This August it will rise to $9 an hour, and to $9.50 by 2016. Beginning in 2018, the wage will rise in yearly increments with inflation.
The Minnesota Restaurant Association’s proposal would cap the minimum wage for tipped employees, primarily servers and bartenders, at $8 an hour. That would stay in place provided that, once tips are factored for each two-week period, those workers earned a total of at least $12 an hour. If they didn’t, they’d get the full state minimum wage.
“It’s not cutting anyone’s pay. It’s a Minnesota Nice approach,” said Dan McElroy, vice president of the Minnesota Restaurant Association.
And therein lies the rub. For sure, there’s a debate to be had over the minimum wage. But at some point, can we declare for certain what we mean by “Minnesota Nice”? Is it the tendency to treat people nicely, or to say “have a nice day” when you actually want them to get hit by a bus because one has buried their anger?
Given the varying definitions of what Minnesota Nice is, what is the “Nice” way to address the issue?
Related: Minnesota Nice, explained (Minnesota Public Radio News).