Mayor Hodges Announces Minneapolis Working Families Agenda
Mayor will work with council and advocates to address key issues facing Minneapolis workers
April 2, 2015 (MINNEAPOLIS) — In Thursday’s State of the City address, Mayor Betsy Hodges announced she will be championing a Minneapolis Working Families Agenda, in partnership with City Council members, community advocates and the business community. This agenda is focused on improving working conditions for low-income workers, against the backdrop of growing structural income inequality that disproportionately affects people of color and women in Minneapolis and across the country.
“Minneapolis, we don’t just need to build the workforce of the future, we need to build the workplace of the future,” said Mayor Hodges. “The expectation that if you worked hard you could get ahead is now more myth than reality for low-income people and many people of color. Even in Minneapolis, where we are famous for our class mobility, the mobility becomes very limited when we start looking at outcomes for people of color. This has to change. We can change it.”
Mayor Hodges will work with various external stakeholders, as well as Council President Barbara Johnson, Vice President Elizabeth Glidden, Council Member Lisa Bender and Council Member Andrew Johnson, to address three key issues that low-income workers in particular are facing: fair scheduling, wage theft, and earned sick and safe time.
Fair scheduling: Making sure that hourly employees know when their shifts are scheduled with enough time to plan, and making sure that if shifts are cancelled at the last minute, those employees are compensated.
Wage Theft: When an employee works their hours, they should get paid for those hours. When an employee works overtime, that employee should get paid overtime. If employees are not fairly paid our expectation must be that the employer be held accountable for those dollars that are, for all intents and purposes, stolen from the pockets of the people who work for them. The City can add to the toolbox of enforcement that already exists for wage theft.
Earned Sick and Safe Time: Every year in the United States, workplaces lose $250 billion in productivity — but 72% of that amount, or $180 billion, is because people come to work sick instead of staying home. And research shows that on average, one sick employee on the job will create one more sick employee. In Minneapolis, 42% of workers lack access to earned sick and safe time. And once again, racial disparities are at work. For example, 63% of white workers have earned sick and safe time, while only 32% of Latino workers do. The lack of earned sick time is also a public-health crisis: a report this week from the Minnesota Department of Health shows that 79% of workers in the food-service sector in Minnesota lack it, and shows that 3,000 cases of food-borne illnesses in a decade were traced to sick food-service workers. Cities and states that have enacted earned sick and safe time have found that it has a positive effect on business profitability, reputation and employee morale, that jobs have grown in the sectors where it has been applied, and that there has been little to no effect on costs.
“We have many great employers in Minneapolis who have found that providing these benefits helps them recruit and retain the best employees,” said Council President Barbara Johnson. “We want to encourage other employers to listen to them and make these changes that will improve people's lives in our city.”
“Everyone wins when workers are no longer forced to choose between going to work sick or working unpredictable hours and not being able to provide for themselves and their families,” said Council Member Lisa Bender. “I know we can work hand-in-hand with our amazing small business community and take action soon to protect working people."
Additionally, Mayor Hodges announced the U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Pérez will be visiting Minneapolis in May to work with local leaders about improving workforce and workplace protections. President Obama has recently championed paid parental leave and paid sick time.
"When I'm in Washington fighting to help working families stretch their paychecks, I take great comfort knowing Mayor Hodges is creating opportunity for the people of Minneapolis, my home,” said U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison. “Whether stopping wage thieves or pushing for paid leave, Minneapolis continues to be a shining example of putting people first.”
A group of stakeholders, including the mayor and council members, will begin working on the next phase of implementing this work in coming weeks.
"I’m encouraged by the Minneapolis Working Families Agenda. Having to work without paid sick days, vacation and holidays deeply impacts my life," said Hilario de Leon, a CTUL member and employee of Prestige Maintenance USA. "When I have to work sick, it only makes me more sick. My co-workers and I have been organizing for better wages and working conditions, including leading several strikes. Having the Mayor fight alongside us is very encouraging. It’s time for Minneapolis to lead on these issues."
"All Minneapolis workers deserve jobs that will allow them to take care of their families," said Matthew McGlory, a north Minneapolis resident and Neighborhoods Organizing for Change (NOC) member who works at Uptown North Face. "We've been organizing for fair schedules and earned sick and safe time with NOC because these shouldn't be fringe benefits, they should be available to everyone in Minneapolis. We're glad to see Mayor Hodges stand with us."
In addition to the Minneapolis Working Families Agenda, Mayor Hodges also announced that the City of Minneapolis will be considering paid parental leave for all City of Minneapolis employees. That policy is expected to go before Council later this month.
Published Apr 2, 2015