Southwest Minneapolis businesses weigh in on city’s Working Families Agenda

The Southwest Business Association (SWBA) is pleased the Mayor is dropping the problematic implementation of the predictive scheduling component from the Working Families Agenda. We appreciate she has been listening to what the many small business owners, their employees and the associations representing them have been saying.

The SWBA strongly urges City Council to form a workgroup that includes small business owners and their employees from a variety of industries to review and advise on the Working Families Agenda proposal. Significantly more input from those affected, both employer and employee, and an analysis of impacts is needed for a policy with such far reaching effects to small businesses.

We also urge the City to use its communication channels and those of its business organization partners to distribute the proposal in Spanish, Hmong, Somali and other languages spoken by our small business owners.

The SWBA has reviewed the proposed Working Families Agenda policy framework and its most recent revisions. Board members and staff have attended meetings on this subject held across the city. It also has held its own forum on the proposal where over 65 businesses attended to give their input to Council Member Elizabeth Glidden, and has solicited written input from businesses in the service area.

The message we have heard consistently from our small business owners and some of their employees is the implementation of this proposal would have serious consequences on their operations, costs and the working relationship between employer and employee. Most of these small business owners are of modest means. They work hard to treat their employees well and to serve the public. They are not CEOs of large multinational corporations. Their businesses operate within tight margins. 

The SWBA represents businesses in southwest Minneapolis generally south of 36th Street. There are approximately 500 storefronts in the service area. Most of the industries from health and wellness to restaurants to retail and everything in between. In all the engagement we have done to date, not a single business owner has spoken in support of the proposal for their business.

Owners are still trying to understand the full extent of the implications to their businesses, their employees and the constructive relationship between employer and employee that exists today. From their present understanding, many businesses have identified real world problems with the implementation of the proposal that affect both the employer and the employee. The proposal is still not widely available in Spanish, Somali, Hmong and other languages. The SWBA continues to do outreach to businesses but this has been a challenge due to the speed the proposal has been moving at.

The SWBA has worked successfully with city elected officials and staff on important positive changes in the restaurant and vintage store industries. Those efforts had robust engagement of businesses from the very beginning of the process and the timing allowed for broad engagement of affected businesses. The Working Families Agenda, which has far greater implications as evidenced by the many issues brought forward by the small business community, would be well served by the examples of the process followed by these previous successful legislative outcomes.

Matt Perry is president of the Southwest Business Association. The association was established in 2006 and has over 200 members in its service area that generally covers the area from 36th Street to Highway 62 and from 35W to Xerxes Avenue in southwest Minneapolis.