MN Hospitality Advocate

Working Families Agenda in Minneapolis

Posted in Uncategorized by hospitalityminnesota on October 12, 2015

One of the most important public policy debates in a long time is happening now in the City of Minneapolis. The “Working Families Agenda” sprang from a national campaign and from a legislative initiative last session. Mayor Betsy Hodges included the proposal in her State of the City speech in April and City Council members unanimously passed a resolution directing their staff to study the issues and prepare recommendations.

Most of you are very familiar with these ideas because they have gotten a great deal of media attention. Wonderful terms such as “brouhaha” and “kerfuffle” have been used to describe the debate so far. Both business owners and employees have turned out for community meetings, forums and events to express great concerns about the unrealistic and inflexible scheduling and leave mandates. Although this is a Minneapolis proposal today, if these ideas become law, other cities are likely to consider them seriously.

The two main components of the agenda are:

  • A proposed city mandate that all Minneapolis employers publish firm work schedules at least 14 days in advance. The proposal started with a 28-day advance scheduling requirement but was changed by the Mayor after vocal outcry by both business owners and workers. The proposal would require employers to pay one hour of “predictability” pay when schedule changes are made inside the 14-day window. There are also requirements for overtime under some circumstances, a prohibition on scheduling shifts with less than an 11-hour interval from the last shift, and a requirement that employers pay workers who are sent home prior to the end of a scheduled shift.
  • A proposal to require all Minneapolis employers to provide one hour of paid “sick and safe” leave for each 30 hours worked. There is a limit of 40 hours per year from employers with 20 or fewer employees and 72 hours a year for larger employers. Employees are asked to provide notice for predictable uses of leave, such as doctor’s appointments. No medical verification is required for absences of three days or less. The accrued sick time would carry from employer to employer.

The only city that has enacted a scheduling mandate is San Francisco. That ordinance applies to “pattern retail and restaurant businesses” with 40 or more locations worldwide. The Minneapolis proposal is much broader because it applies to all employers regardless of size or industry.

A state law on this topic was considered by the California legislature in 2015 and defeated. The San Francisco ordinance just went into effect this past July so it is too soon to know if the disruption is as serious to workers and employers as the opponents have predicted.

Four states — California, Oregon, Massachusetts and Connecticut — have sick and safe leave mandates. Most of those have exceptions for small employers. There are 17 cities, in addition to San Francisco, that have paid sick and safe leave ordinances. That is a tiny minority of the more than 35,000 cities in the country. None of the mandate cities are in the Midwest.

The reaction to the Working Families Agenda has been loud and passionate on both sides. A coalition of labor and advocacy organizations makes their case at the website www.mplsworks.com. A large coalition of business and community organizations that opposes the agenda in its current form makes their case at www.workforcefairnesscoalition.com.

By the time you receive this, there will likely be more than 50 members of the coalition, including the Minnesota Restaurant Association, trade associations representing dozens of industries, local and regional chambers of commerce, neighborhood associations and employers of all sizes. Many employees of restaurants and other businesses share the concerns expressed by business owners over a lack of flexibility in their schedules and in their lives.

A server at a small Lake Street restaurant responded, “That will never work; my son’s soccer schedules aren’t out that far in advance.” Similar concerns have been expressed over schedules and plans for school, other jobs, volunteer work and a wide variety of other life realities.

The Minnesota Restaurant Association and the Workforce Fairness Coalition are committed to working with the Mayor and members of the City Council to better understand their concerns and to explain the complexity of adding more mandates to a complex and competitive industry already dealing with the Affordable Care Act, a tight labor market and rising commodity prices. We support good communication and respectful collaboration between business owners and their valued employees. We don’t think it makes sense for one city to adopt expensive and inflexible policies that will hurt both business owners and workers. Minneapolis is surrounded by competitors in other communities that aren’t considering adding costs or reducing flexibility. Keep in mind that San Francisco is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and San Francisco bay and thus is isolated from much of its suburban competition.

What can you do in response to the Working Families Agenda? The proposals may have changed by the time this edition of Foodservice News goes to press but the debate isn’t likely to be over. You can get involved! There is a calendar of events and a list of opportunities for both workers and employers to learn more and to get engaged on the Workforce Fairness Coalition website (http://www.workforcefairnesscoalition.com). The City of Minneapolis is accepting comments (even after their deadline) at workingfamilies@minneapolismn.gov. If you live or do business in the City of Minneapolis, please contact your city council member and share your experiences and concerns with them. Contact and ward boundary information is available at http://www.minneapolismn.gov/council/. You can also express your concerns by signing the Work Force Fairness petition online at: http://working.voicehive.com/v2/page/petitionpage.

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