'Morning Joe' Condemns Minn. Restaurant's Min. Wage Fee as 'Revenge Tactic'

Friday’s Morning Joe panel made sure to express how it was “disappointed” that a Minnesota restaurant had the audacity to put a “minimum wage fee” on its receipts after the state hiked the wage requirement. While Joe Scarborough acknowledged that “it's hard” for “small business owners running restaurants” he had no sympathy for the restaurant, which had received shocking blowback from its customers for simply specifying why it increased the bill by 35 cents.

The former congressman and MSNBC host, who reportedly earns $99,038 a week for his morning show, stated that he “understand(s) the difficulty of any extra burden” an increase in minimum wage exerts on small businesses. However, he concluded that “with the minimum wage as low as it historically is, you may not want to advertise your contempt for raising it a little bit on the bill.” [See video below. Click here for MP3 audio]

Thomas Roberts of Way Too Early agreed that “slapping a 35-cent minimum wage fee on all the customer tabs” and putting it “right there on your bill” “seems like it's a revenge tactic.” While Roberts did admit that “they were honest about putting it out there and not making it something that they were hiding from people” and that “people have a right to their own reaction to it,” he concluded that “it isn't a good PR move for Oasis out there.”

Of course, by slamming the restaurant on the show by name, MSNBC is doing its best to ensure that it really is a bad “PR move” for the Oasis Café. Apparently, increasing prices to combat a mandatory increase in wages is acceptable, but blaming the increase on liberal economic policy is not.

See transcript below:

MSNBC
Morning Joe
August 8, 2014
8:52 a.m. Eastern
1 minute and 49 seconds

       
THOMAS ROBERTS: This is a really interesting talk that’s coming out of Minnesota where a restaurant there is coming under fire for the way that it's protesting the minimum wage hike there. The new minimum wage went up by 75 cents, Oasis Cafe in Stillwater has started slapping a 35-cent minimum wage fee on all the customer tabs and they put it right there on your bill. It's in response to the new $8 an hour minimum wage which took effect last week, the first increase in the state since 2009. So one person wrote on Facebook, “Shame on your protest over a small increase in pay required by law. Hopefully customers will not continue to patronize your cheapskate establishment. I heard the food isn’t that good anyway” Another comment read “$8 for a bacon cheeseburger and you can't pay your employees a decent wage? You ought to be ashamed of yourself.” A manager said that it's “appalled at the response for just protecting its employees.” So they're passing it on. They’re not raising the food prices, apparently, but they put the surcharge of 35 cents right there on the bill for everybody to see.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: I don't know if that's the best PR move. I mean, listen, these small business owners running restaurants, we all know we've had friends that have done these, it's horrible. It's hard to do. And you know, I understand the difficulty of any extra burden. But, no with the minimum wage as low as it historically is, you may not want to advertise your contempt for raising it a little bit on the bill.

ROBERTS: Well, it seems like it's a revenge tactic in some part, but they were honest about putting it out there and not making it something that they were hiding from people. People have a right to their own reaction to it and people have taken to social media to talk about it and they are making a storm about it, so it isn't a good PR move for oasis out there.

SCARBOROUGH: Is that all you got?

JOHN HEILEMANN: That's all I got.

SCARBOROUGH: Just that Morning Joe is disappointed.

Laura Flint
Laura Flint is a 2014 summer intern for the MRC's News Analysis Division.