Gov. Dayton dives into minimum wage fee furor - KMSP-TV

Gov. Dayton dives into minimum wage fee furor

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) -

While speaking with Minnesota Public Radio on Thursday morning, Gov. Mark Dayton made it quite clear that he has an opinion about "minimum wage fees" like those seen on a receipt posted to Facebook. He thinks they're "tacky."

A friend of an Oasis Café customer posted a photograph of the receipt to the restaurant's Facebook page to share her outrage at the eatery's decision to put employee wage increases on a bill as an extra charge to the customer. The so-called "server shaming" receipt includes a minimum wage fee of 35 cents just below the tax total on a $15 bill. At the base of the receipt, the fee is further clarified as "a charge to offset a state increase of minimum wage for tipped employees."

MORE: Café bill with 'minimum wage fee' sparks outrage

Last Friday, an incremental wage increase of 75 cents took effect in Minnesota -- a boost Dayton enthusiastically praised in April when he signed the state's first increase in a decade into law. The photo of the receipt surfaced a short time later and quickly caught the attention of local media, triggering several debates on the practice and calls for a boycott. Although Dayton didn't mention any particular establishment by name when he weighed in on Thursday, he admitted that he's disappointed to see businesses pushing the costs off as a fee to customers.

"I think it's tacky, myself," Dayton said. "But, it's their restaurant, and they have a right to freedom of expression. So, if they're going to make this their way of objecting to it, people can decide for themselves whether they want to continue to patronize a restaurant that is trying to, opposes paying people $8 an hour."

As for Oasis Café, the owners responded on Facebook to say they need to offset the increase in order to profit and have no intention of dropping the fee. In fact, the manager says business has increased so far this week.

"We're all appalled at the response for just protecting his employees, he said. "We're just doing what we have to do."

Critics, however, contend that things aren't so black and white, and many believe the display is purely political. The woman who first posted the picture on the restaurant's Facebook page openly questioned why the owners couldn't just boost the price of a meal without making servers "look like the bad guys to their customers." Wade Luneburg, of the MN State Council of UNITE HERE Unions, told the Star Tribune that he thinks the fees represent an odd overreaction in the industry.

"Putting (minimum wage) fees on tickets and passing the cost on to consumers directly is strange at best, and creates an 'us against them' mentality while ordering dinner," he said.

What do you think? Join the conversation on Facebook.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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