City leaders revise Working Families Agenda proposals

The City Council's Committee of the Whole will hold a public hearing on the proposed sick time and fair scheduling ordinances on Nov. 4. Credit:

City leaders working on crafting proposals mandating paid sick time and fair scheduling for all Minneapolis workers have modified the measures based on feedback from the business community and workers.

The changes include requiring a 14-day advance notice of schedules rather than 28 — a provision many businesses criticized for being unworkable; establishing scheduling standards promoting “adequate rest” between shifts; phasing in implementation for small businesses; and offering technical support for businesses to comply with the scheduling rules.

City Council Vice President Elizabeth Glidden (Ward 8) and City Council Member Lisa Bender (Ward 10) said the changes reflect a “growing consensus” among businesses and workers who have weighed in on the proposals.

“We will work to incorporate these and other changes into any proposed ordinance,” they wrote in a Journal op-ed on Oct. 6. “We commit to continuing the conversation and working on shared solutions to the challenges of unpredictable and last minute scheduling practices and lack of needed sick time for workers.”

In their current form the proposals apply to all employers in the city regardless of size unless collective bargaining agreements exempt them. The amount of sick time required would vary depending on the size of the employer.

City leaders supporting the proposals say they are necessary to address the city’s significant racial disparities. Low-wage workers in Minneapolis are disproportionately women and people of color.

Mayor Betsy Hodges, who first promoted the Working Families Agenda in the spring, said she’s supportive of the proposed changes.

“Our businesses and workers both need to succeed,” she said. “While there has been a healthy discussion over what a final ordinance will include, there is now a strong movement toward consensus. I will keep meeting with businesses and workers to craft a strong, workable set of policies, and I look forward to working with the City Council as we continue to incorporate feedback from all parties into the Working Families draft proposal.”

Meanwhile, Todd Klingel, president of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the proposed revisions don’t go far enough to address concerns of business leaders. The chamber along with several other business associations have created the Workforce Fairness Coalition in opposition to the Working Families Agenda proposals. 

“A healthy policy conversation involves bringing everyone together in a collaborative process to find workable solutions,” Klingel said. “The possible modifications to the Working Families Agenda announced fall far short of consensus. There is much work to be done, and many voices to be heard including those of immigrant business owners who have yet to see information from the City about the proposals in their native language. We encourage employers, employees, and customers from across the city to stay engaged and continue sharing how a one size fits all mandate won’t work for Minneapolis.”

The City Council held a study session Oct. 6 with presentations by experts making a case for the importance of paid sick leave and flexible scheduling to ensure the health and stability of working families.

Minnesota Assistant Commissioner of Health Jeanne Ayers and Minneapolis Health Commissioner Gretchen Musicant presented data showing that low-wage workers who work in the service sector, including food workers, personal care attendants and child care, disproportionately lack access to paid sick time and predictable scheduling.

Musicant said of the city’s workers, 75,696 lack access to paid sick leave and about 40 percent of city residents don’t have sick leave at work.

Both opponents and supporters of the measures have launched active campaigns in an attempt to persuade City Hall leaders to consider their perspectives. City leaders are taking feedback on the proposals until Oct. 16 and are expected to take a vote on the ordinances by the end of the year.

Low-wage workers and advocates from Working America, a community affiliate of the AFL-CIO, delivered more than 6,100 petitions to Council members today in support of new fair scheduling standards.

Working America-Minnesota director David Wehde said the petitions demonstrate “an appetite and urgency” for new city ordinances.

“Many workplace protections covered by current statutes are rapidly becoming outdated and insufficient, exposing everyday working people to a greater share of the risk posed by our ‘just-in-time’ economy,” he said.

The Council’s Committee of the Whole will hold a public hearing on the sick time and fair scheduling proposals on Nov. 4.