On Campus Notebook: Lake Superior College to host Scrubs Camp

Sixty middle school campers will get to check out health careers ranging from dental, surgical and radiologic tech to pharmacy, veterinary and medical device design at Scrubs Camp on Tuesday and Wednesday at Lake Superior College. Read more.

. Lake Superior College has hired Stephan Witherspoon and Kym Young as a TRiO Educational Opportunity Center temporary advisors.

Howie’s View: Sick and Safe, $15 minimum wage a gun to the head for local restaurants

Dan McElroy, executive vice president of the Minnesota Restaurant Association, shared his thoughtful views on Earned Sick and Safe Time and $15 minimum wage with local full-service restaurant owners at a private meeting Tuesday morning in Duluth.

“Restaurant employers and Sick and Safe advocates have the same goals: they don’t want people to come to work sick. It isn’t smart, and there’s a law against it for restaurant operators. You can’t allow people to work sick,” McElroy, a former commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, said afterwards. “These are our friends in many cases, and many of them have worked for us for a long time. We don’t want them to work sick and we don’t want them to lose money. But there are better ways than a one-size-fits-all mandate.”

McElroy continued: “Restaurants are somewhat unique that they’re open for so many hours, and many represented in the room here today are open more than 100 hours a week. Restaurants have lots of people who work relatively part-time schedules. If they’re out sick, employers can help them get another shift. Increasingly, we’re seeing restaurants that use smart phone apps for their scheduling and employees can go on the app and pick up another shift. These government mandates freeze a solution in time, and with today’s technology and culture, they keep us from working for better solutions every day. They’re sort of anti-creativity ordinances. I don’t know if this is good for Duluth.”

McElroy’s advice for the local policymakers considering Safe and Sick legislation?

“The goal is to help your community help it’s employers to help their employees. Fewer people working sick. Fewer people losing wages. Let’s work together to make that happen. There is no evidence that in any of the communities — from the 30 or so nationwide out of about 19,000 cities, so this is not a groundswell but a sample — that we’re seeing improvement in people working sick or that people’s health is better because of these ordinances. The idea that the restaurant industry has recomended, saying, ‘Let us craft solutions that work for our individual businesses and employees, we’ll explain them to our employees, we’ll follow our policy that makes sense.’ Restaurants and their employees want to craft the benefits to fit their businesses, to how their people actually work, and for the hours that they’re open every week. I think that is the solution to create a goal for a healthier Duluth.”

McElroy, on how Sick and Safe is playing out in the Twin Cities: “The laws came into effort only on July 1. We have seen employers, even before there was the mandate, begin to offer paid sick leave or paid time off to help their employees. We’re also seeing technology helping. Restaurants are using apps such as When I Work, Hot Schedules or others to communicate between the company and employees as to when they are expected to work, or for employees to trade shifts or gain open shifts. So the idea of not losing work is enhanced by the technology of these flexible scheduling programs.”

As to the $15-and-hour minimum wage narrative, particularly for restaurant workers?

“We have a wide variety of restaurant types, from quick-service restaurants, fast-casual ordering, countering type to full-service,” McElroy said. “The position that the restaurant industry has taken is that many of its employees, servers and bartenders, make way more than minimum wage when you factor in their tips. Minnesota is an outlier by not recognizing that tips are a taxable income and should count. Restaurants are concerned about the inequity between the front of their houses and the servers and bartenders who make $9.50 an hour, plus tips, and are well over $20 per hour in their total earnings. The kitchen employees don’t have access to those tips.

“The proposal in Minneapolis called The Pathway to $15 is a commitment by the restaurant industry to get all workers to the $15-an-hour level. It will take a few years to get there. But raising the standard to $15 without recognizing employees’ total taxable income would have the unintended consequence of making it harder and more costly for bars and restaurants to hire more employees. Forcing neighborhood restaurants and bars to raise the minimum wage without recognizing tips will end up hurting those it is intended to help, either through reduced working hours or because of layoffs. If they can do that, working together, they will not cut back on the wages of those already earning more than $20 per hour and also reduce the inequities between the kitchen staff and the front of the house.

“Duluth restaurants compete with Superior restaurants that have a far different wage structure, and Duluth restaurant owners justifiably are worried about this. Duluth is a rare interstate market where you’re not only competing against other restaurants in Minnesota but against restaurants located in another state where they’ve preempted local wages. Wisconsin is one of the surrounding 43 states that preempts local sick leaves or minimum wages, and it recognizes the importance of tips as overall wages.”

Golf open to benefit UW-Superior Native American Scholarship Fund

SUPERIOR, Wis. – With all proceeds to benefit the Native American Scholarship fund at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, the 2017 Johnson Open promises to be a day of fun for a great cause. The event will take place Friday, July 28, at 9 a.m. at the Nemadji Golf Club in Superior.

The Johnson Open Scholarship Fund will provide a $1,000 scholarship to assist a Native American UW-Superior student with their education.

Two-person teams will take part in a unique format involving six holes of best ball play, six holes of alternate shot play and six holes scramble style.

The $30 entry fee per person includes a meal and door prizes. Greens and cart fees are extra.

UW-Superior’s First Nations Center seeks to promote an understanding and awareness of Indian people through a curriculum in First Nations Studies that leads to a minor. The program provides the opportunity for Indians and non-Indians alike to increase their knowledge of the origin of Indian people in terms of history, culture and philosophy.

For additional information, contact Gary Johnson at the UW-Superior First Nations Center at (715) 394-8358. Limited spots are available. To sign up, contact the Nemadji Golf Club at (715) 394-0266.


The State of Minnesota is replacing the computer system that handles license tabs and other vehicle transactions, and this will affect the services offered at the St. Louis County Auditor’s Service Center on Thursday through Saturday during the upgrade.

The Auditor’s Service Center will be open during normal operating hours on Thursday and Friday, however no vehicle transactions can be done on those days. This includes license tabs, license plates, title transfers and title applications. Other services such as driver’s license renewals, DNR transactions, and passport applications and renewals will not be affected.

The Auditor’s Service Center will be closed Saturday.