Religious leaders rally for paid sick time

Rev. Laurie Eaton of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church calls on city leaders to support paid sick time outside City Hall at a rally with several other religious leaders. Credit: Photo by Sarah McKenzie

A large group of faith leaders called on city leaders to pass paid sick time for all Minneapolis workers at a rally today on the steps of City Hall.

Rev. Paul Slack of New Creation Church in North Minneapolis, who also serves as president of ISAIAH, a faith-based organization working on racial and economic justice across the state, said people of color disproportionately lack access to sick time.

“We are here to ask the City Council and our mayor to support this very basic right for our working families — to stand with working families so that they and the people they love can be protected,” he said.

Rev. Laurie Eaton of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in South Minneapolis said it’s time for the community to support paid sick time as a way to address the city’s troubling disparities.

“We decry these disparities and we talk and we gather data,” she said. “But when concrete policy actions are proposed to truly improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people suddenly those options are unrealistic, naïve, ill conceived and too costly for business. My friends this is exactly what systemic racism looks like.”

The sick time proposal is part of the city’s Working Families Agenda, which has been promoted by Mayor Betsy Hodges and several Council members for months. City leaders recently dropped a controversial fair scheduling proposal from the agenda in face of intense criticism from business leaders.

The proposal would allow workers at companies with fewer than 21 workers to accrue up 40 hours of paid sick time per year and workers at larger companies could earn up to 72 hours a year.

At a recent community forum, City Council Vice President Elizabeth Glidden (Ward 8) said about 40 percent of Minneapolis workers lack paid sick leave.

A group called the Workforce Fairness Coalition led by the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce has also been meeting with city leaders to go over concerns about the proposed mandate.

Following the rally, the religious leaders were planning to meet with Council members to lobby for the sick time proposal.

Four states — California, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Oregon — have paid sick leave legislation along with more than 20 cities, according to a recent article in The National Law Review.