Coalition launches in opposition to proposed fair scheduling, sick time ordinances

A group of local business associations have formed the Workforce Fairness Coalition to oppose proposals calling for fair scheduling and earned sick time for Minneapolis workers.

The proposed policies are part of the Working Families Agenda promoted by Mayor Betsy Hodges and several City Council members — a framework designed to address concerns raised by low-wage workers about challenging working conditions.

Workers and their advocates have been holding demonstrations throughout the city for the past several weeks calling for higher pay and more consistent scheduling as part of the #MplsWorks campaign

Under the fair scheduling proposal, employers would be required to give employees notice of their schedules 28 days in advance and pay time-and-half for overtime work, among other things. All employees in Minneapolis would be covered by the ordinance unless a collective bargaining agreement waives the law. If an employer changes an employee’s schedule with less than 24 hours notice, they would be required to pay the employee for four hours of work or the duration of the shift (whichever is less.)

The proposal also requires employers to offer additional hours to existing employees before hiring new or temp workers. 

The sick time policy mandates that employees earn one hour of sick time for every 30 hours of work, which can be used 90 days after their first day on the job. Employers with one or more employee would be covered, but there is an exemption if a collective bargaining agreement “waives the law in clear and unambiguous terms.”

Employees at companies with 21 or more workers would be able to accrue a maximum of 72 hours of sick time. Workers at businesses with fewer than 21 employees, meanwhile, would be able to accrue a maximum of 40 hours of sick time. 

The City Council unanimously approved a resolution in May directing city staff to develop policy proposals supporting earned sick time, fair scheduling and wage theft prevention. It also called for a study examining the impact of increasing the minimum wage regionally and in Minneapolis, which the Council authorized Sept. 25.

The City Council is expected to vote on the proposals later this fall.

The Workforce Fairness Coalition includes the Minneapolis Downtown Council, the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Minnesota Restaurant Association, among many other business groups. In a statement on its website, it says its goal is “to push back against a ‘solution’ in search of a problem that inserts the City of Minneapolis into the employee-employer relationship creating an unworkable employer-city hall-employee relationship.”

Todd Klingel, president of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, said he’s been getting calls from a lot of local businesses with concerns and questions about the policies. He added that city leaders have been open to hearing perspective from the business community.  

“Our goal is not to chastise at all, but to work with them and to educate them on how does this actually work in the market. Because it’s clear it’s going to cost money,” he said. “Every business is going to have new costs or new time engaged, which is money for its employees, to make this happen. So do the benefits for the city outweigh the additional burden on business?”

He said the 28-day advance notice for schedules would be unworkable for many businesses, including hospitals who have nurses and physicians working on call. 

Dan McElroy, president and CEO of Hospitality Minnesota and member of the new coalition, called the proposed ordinances “fairly rigid and one-size-fits-all solution.”

“Our intention is to listen and work with advocates in the City Hall. I think we probably can find some common ground,” he said, adding he hopes there’s a chance for dialogue at the Business Day at City Hall event Friday morning.

He called the fair scheduling proposal, in particular, a “bad idea.”

“Most of our employees are in the food service business because they like the flexibility of their schedule,” he said.

Meanwhile, city leaders working on the proposed ordinances argue that a lack of predictable schedules and earned sick time disproportionately impact people of color and women and make it harder for workers to plan their lives.

City Council Members Elizabeth Glidden (Ward 8), John Quincy (Ward 11) and Linea Palmisano (Ward 13) are holding a community forum Wednesday, Sept. 30, 6:30 p.m., on the Working Families Agenda at Mayflower Church, 106 E. Diamond Lake Rd.  

The Uptown Association is also hosting a meeting with City Council Member Lisa Bender (Ward 10) about the proposed ordinances Tuesday, Oct. 13, 4–5 p.m., at the Apple Store, 3018 Hennepin Ave.

City staff are also taking comments on the proposals through Oct. 16. Feedback should be directed to workingfamilies@minneapolismn.gov. 

The proposals are modeled, in part, on policies recently adopted in San Francisco.

San Francisco passed ordinances in July referred to as the Retail Workers Bill of Rights, which apply to chain restaurants and retail stores that employ workers not covered by collective bargaining agreements. Employers are required to pay employers one hour of pay if their schedules are changed with less than seven days of notice. Employers are also required to offer work to existing part-time employees before hiring new full- or part-time workers.