As airlines slash flights, MSP Airport delays vote on $15 minimum wage

The COVID-19 outbreak has created huge uncertainty in the airline industry.
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The Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) has announced it is postponing a vote on a new $15 minimum wage for workers at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport amid the coronavirus crisis.

MAC Chair Rick King said that the vote, due to take place in April, will be pushed back to a later date "due to the economic and financial uncertainties arising from COVID-19."

It comes after the implementation of international travel bans and a massive drop in demand for domestic travel because of the outbreak.

Delta, the largest carrier operating at MSP, announced earlier this week it would be cutting its flight schedule by as much as 70 percent, representing 55,000 flights and requiring 450 of its planes to be "parked."

The MAC vote on the new minimum wage would have seen the $15 rate introduced by July 1, 2022. It's unclear if that start date is affected by the vote being pushed back.

"We are not abandoning efforts to ensure employees at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport are paid competitive wages that attract a quality workforce," said King. 

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"The issue is timing. Right now, airport businesses are struggling due to the rapid decline in air travel demand in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. While we fully support the $15 minimum wage, we need to be careful about increasing costs to businesses at a time when revenues throughout the aviation industry are far below what anyone could have forecasted and might remain so for some time."

Businesses at MSP are currently required to pay staff at least $1 an hour more than the state minimum wage if they have 21 or more employees, and are also required to provide paid leave for sickness or injury.

"The MAC has a history of leading on minimum wage issues in Minnesota, and we will bring the draft minimum wage ordinance to a vote as soon as feasible," King said.

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