City leaders table fair scheduling proposal

Credit:

Mayor Betsy Hodges announced Wednesday that the controversial fair scheduling proposal will no longer be part of the city’s Working Families Agenda this year, but city leaders will continue to advocate for paid sick leave for all workers in Minneapolis. 

Business leaders have attacked the fair scheduling proposal, which called on employers to give workers 14-days notice of their schedules. As it stands now, the Working Families Agenda includes a measure mandating paid sick leave for all employees in the city unless a collective bargaining agreement preempts it. City Council Vice President Elizabeth Glidden (Ward 8) and Council Member Lisa Bender (Ward 10) have been the key champions of the agenda on the Council. 

The paid sick time provision would require employers with 21 or more workers to allow an employee to accrue up to 72 hours of sick time a year. Employees at companies with fewer than 21 workers could earn up to 40 hours of sick time a year. 

The City Council’s Committee of the Whole is expected to hold a hearing on the proposal Nov. 4.

Bender said the “rhetoric got so heated” on the fair scheduling proposal, that city leaders decided to table the discussion on that issue for now. She said it’s become more clear to her that many people aren’t aware of the hardships faced by low-wage workers in the city.

“We’ve started a really important conversation,” she said. “I’ve realized how invisible poverty is in this city.” 

The Workforce Fairness Coalition, a group of business associations led by the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, has scheduled a rally at City Hall on Friday at 9 a.m. to speak out against the Working Families Agenda. 

Todd Klingel, president of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, commended Hodges for making revisions to the agenda.  

“We thank Mayor Hodges for listening to the thousands of people who have raised their voices in opposition to these unworkable proposals. We’ve seen customers, employees and employers join together to share personal stories and concerns about how Minneapolis should move forward,” he said. “There are still significant questions about what is being proposed that we all need to review and understand.  Employers across Minneapolis share the same goal of making sure families and workers are supported and engaged in the energy of this community.”

Supporters of the fair scheduling proposal expressed disappointment with Hodges’ announcement.

Here’s an excerpt from a statement released by The #MplsWorks campaign:  “Closing racial and economic gaps is the most urgent issue facing Minneapolis. It is incredibly disappointing that our elected officials are backing away from one important part of the Working Families Agenda, fair scheduling protections, which would go a long way toward shrinking the racial divide in Minneapolis.  We continue to believe that this protection like earned sick and safe time and the prevention of wage theft are urgently need solutions for Minneapolis workers.  We will join with workers, policymakers, business owners, and community members to continue to press for policies that improves the lives of Minneapolis families.”

Here’s the statement issued by the mayor:

>>>

“I proposed the Working Families Agenda because there is a problem in Minneapolis: while we are a booming city, not everyone is sharing in our prosperity. In particular, low-income workers, hourly workers, and part-time workers are not getting ahead in our growing economy. This is a problem not only for them, but for everyone. Minneapolis suffers from large gaps in economic outcomes between white people and people of color, and these workers are predominantly people of color and immigrants in our fastest-growing communities — so when low-income workers in Minneapolis are not included or share equally in our growth, our entire city’s economic prospects are hobbled. 

In order to address this problem, I proposed that:

— Workers be able to accumulate paid leave that they can use when they are sick, when they need to care for family members, or when they need to be safe when living with domestic violence or other abuse;
— Workers be paid for all the hours that they work, and have additional assurances that their wages will not be stolen; and
— Workers be able to plan for everyday realities like child care, education, and second jobs with predictable schedules.

My intention in proposing these measures was, and continues to be, to provide low-income, hourly, and part-time workers and their families with tools to lift themselves into prosperity and into the middle class. When they succeed in that, our communities and our economy will thrive, and our economic future will know no limit.

When it comes to fair, predictable scheduling, I have heard from many people, including many business owners, that the issue is complicated and that more time is needed to engage in this important issue. I have heard many concerns, but I have also heard from many business leaders that they are committed to working together to find solutions. I have reached out personally to many of them and have appreciated the opportunity to listen to them. As a result, I have come to the conclusion that we are not in a position to resolve the concerns satisfactorily on the timeline currently contemplated.

For this reason, I am announcing today that I am moving forward with the agenda to ensure earned sick and safe time and to protect against wage theft, and that for now, fair scheduling policies will not be the focus of the work. 

Let me be clear: the inability of too many low-income, hourly, and part-time workers to plan their lives predictably in order to get ahead is still a problem in our city. We should not stop looking for a solution until it stops being a problem. 

Let me also be clear that I recognize that there are many, many good businesses in Minneapolis who do right by their employees, who respond to complex demands in partnership with their workers. At the same time, we must all acknowledge that there are still some — too many — that do not, that choose to exploit workers’ vulnerabilities in ways that keep them from getting ahead. Again, when low-income families in Minneapolis cannot prosper, our entire economy will stall and ultimately decline. 

I will continue to listen to and engage with businesses, workers, advocates, and residents to identify a policy solution around fair scheduling that works, and I thank everyone who has put their time and hard work into this important discussion. I will also work actively to ensure the passage of policies to provide earned sick and safe time, and further protections against wage theft. And I continue to believe that our future prosperity depends on our ensuring that our growth includes everyone.”

>>>