The Citizens League Minimum Wage Study Committee met on Thursday, June 21, 2018, at the University of St. Thomas. Check out last’s week recap on the sixth meeting here if you missed it.
Co-chair B Kyle opened the meeting by asking for feedback on the last week’s meeting. The networking activity had a good response from the committee members. They just wish they had more time to do more!
At that point members voiced questions about the process and work plan of the task force into the coming weeks. Several felt that they are ready to bring their suggestions to the table. Pahoua Hoffman reminded the committee that they are still in phase one: the learning phase. “You can’t learn and defend at the same time.” She will bring the timeline next week; however, committee members are encouraged to continue collecting data and holding their recommendations until next month.
The theme of this meeting was “tip credit.”
First, the committee heard a presentation from Jennifer Schellenberg, server from Northbound Smokehouse & Pub and representative of Restaurant Workers of America. Jennifer introduced the committee to three potential minimum wage tiers:
The presentation went over the time due to the intensity of the topic. The Citizens League staff will be working on more visual and digestible infographics on how the tip credit and super wage would apply. Jennifer’s presentation can be found here. Other related articles and reports Jennifer mentioned in her presentation can also be found here.
The committee spent some time discussing the loophole on reporting cash tips. It is federal law to report all tips earned – both cash and those paid electronically on a credit or debit card – but, unfortunately, when cash has little of an accountability trail, servers acknowledge that at least some of that cash goes unreported.
The committee had little time left to hear from other panelists who represented food and beverage industry. Jamie Robison, majority owner of Northbound Smokehouse & Pub, spoke to his challenges and his recommended solutions to the committee. His document can be found here.
Torrence Beavers, Executive Chef at Brunson’s Pub, shared with the committee the harsh reality of being a “back of the house” staff person. “We are the first to get cut [when employers go through financial crisis].”
Jeff Crandall, Bartender at Eagle Street Grille, attested that the tip credit is crucial for employees like him who depend on the extra income. He has over 20 years of restaurant experience from dish washer, host, server, cook, and bartender. A majority of tipped workers make more than the back-of-the-house staff -- almost or above $25/hr according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and it is becoming more difficult for restaurant owners to make a profit.
Robert Crew, Director of Food & Beverages Operations of Commonwealth Properties, shared with the committee his struggles keeping up with the finances of WA Frost. Even with the success of the restaurant, 41% of the revenue paid for labor in 2017 leaving 1-2% profit margins for the business. In 2015 they were making 5-6% profit margins.
The remaining meetings during the month of June will continue the topic of tip credit and adjustments. Committee meetings in July will solely be designated for discussing solutions and recommended actions.
The Citizens League Minimum Wage Study Committee met on Thursday, June 14, 2018, at the University of St. Thomas. Check out last’s week recap on the fifth meeting here if you missed it.
The committee began this week’s meeting by debriefing last week’s panel of small business owners. In retrospect, input of the panelists was undoubtedly valuable, and certainly credible. However, whether or not the panel was completely representative of the small business community of Saint Paul was a question raised.
Last week’s panel was composed solely of food and beverage industry professionals. Obviously, industrial diversity was a pertinent dynamic that was missing. With that, having the opinions of all industries represented became a greater priority. The challenge is how to respectfully gather opinions from underrepresented businesses while not conflicting with the time they otherwise would devote to running those businesses. Although 15 different businesses (including dry cleaners, corner stores, and other retail) were invited, it was unfortunate that more panelists were unable to attend.
The committee then discussed the idea that accepting statements from small business owners, or holding additional meetings with them, may be effective in bringing more ideas to the committee. It also would be inclusive to those who are unable to attend regular meetings due to time constraints. Such a possibility remains open.
The legal research update was brought by Snowden Stieber, Citizens League’s legal intern. The presentation was very direct in addressing the legal parameters of minimum wage laws in Saint Paul given current state laws. A major takeaway from his presentation was, “Cities may pass ordinances which are in addition to, but not in conflict, with state regulations. Cities also may not impose regulations that interfere with state agencies.” The legal research update can be found here.
Following the update, the committee participated in an exercise that was intended to help committee members get to know each other. Assignments in this exercise included sharing personal life motivations, and seeing how the motives of each member can connect. It was a successful activity that did well at showing the common interests that connect committee members. With justice and compassion being prominent themes, this exercise revealed the common desire to show an appreciation for and make a valuable contribution to the wider community.
Melanie McMahon, Legislative Aide of Councilmember Tolbert, and Jessi Kingston, Director of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity, both were able to come in and share on behalf of the City of Saint Paul. Getting an ordinance drafted and passed “is not a quick process,” said Melanie. Their presentations gave the committee a better understanding of what City ordinance passage, implementation, and enforcement process entails.
The effectiveness of implementation and outreach in the past, within the context of new ordinance implementation, was the most prevalent topic in discussion. This ultimately lead to the question of how does compliance look and, specifically, what does auditing, accounting, and payroll look like to businesses having to implement the change?
This discussion was effective in giving the committee an idea of what would be useful in its recommendations regarding ordinance implementation. Overall, this meeting was very informative as it pertains to city practices and legal limitations. Looking at the community report, the most outstanding comment was one that discussed state law regarding tip adjustment and how this influences the abilities of employers as well as the City of Saint Paul.
With just 8 meetings left, tip adjustment is a topic that is promised to come up in many more conversations, including next week’s meeting – where tip “credit” specifically will be discussed.
Guest blog post by Jack Semler, President & CEO, Readex Research
Do you remember what it felt like the last time you lost a customer? Surprised? Angry? Upset? And what did the unhappy customer do, at least as far as you know? Told someone else, texted, used social media to post a gripe. Then you and your team had to find a new customer! Think of the time, energy, money expended to find that “replacement” customer.
Most companies want to have a listening program in place, but don’t. There is the general thought that a Customer Experience (CX) listening process is too expensive, too complicated, takes too much time or demands too much from staff. All of this can be true if you don’t have a planned and focused program in place.
Customers who have complaints don’t know how to be heard. People prefer a safe and comfortable process; that it’s OK to voice their opinion. There is good news. Businesses that are serious about listening to their customers experiences have options when activating a productive process; beneficial for customers, employees and business.
Suggestions you can implement immediately:
These are all listening channels; opportunities where customers can actively engage with your business and share feedback about their experiences.
The most popular means for engaging and hearing from your customers is through online or mail surveys. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
Our research recommends that a customer experience survey should be limited to no more than five questions.
Here are some survey tips:
If you do implement listening channels, take them seriously; be prepared to follow up quickly with the customer if an issue comes to your attention. Remember how you felt when you complained and nothing happened? Be different. Show the customer you care by taking action. A little attention goes a long way. www.readexresearch.com