Business leaders, low-income workers head-to-head over sick pay plans

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Having seen proposed fair scheduling rules shelved for now, Minneapolis business leaders met on Friday to push back against the City's plans for mandatory sick leave.

Around 75 business leaders met and rallied at City Hall on Friday morning to register their disapproval with Minneapolis' "Working Families Agenda," which according to KARE 11 they consider "unfair and overreaching."

"I just don't believe the city council should be doing these things," Dave Amundson of TreHus Architect told the TV station."If they are going to be done, they should be done at a state level so everyone has to comply."

The City's push, led by Mayor Betsy Hodges, would see workers accrue one hour of sick pay for every 30 hours worked, and extra protections put in place to protect workers' wages being "stolen" by employers.

Another proposal, that would have seen employers forced to give workers at least 14 days notice of their working schedule, was removed from the agenda earlier this week in the face of vociferous opposition from small businesses who said it would be impossible to implement.

The sick pay ordinance would allow workers at larger businesses (21+ employees) accrue up to 72 hours of sick pay a year, which can be carried over to the next year, while those at smaller companies could accrue 40 hours.

Rallying on Friday, Lina Goh, owner of the Zen Box Restaurant on Washington Ave., told WCCO that implementing the new rules would create further divisions between employers and employees.

"I love my employees as much and work as hard. When the dishwasher doesn’t show up I become the dishwasher, I clean bathrooms and do everything too," she said.

Workers rally outside Hodges' office

The rally on Friday came just 24 hours after a similar demonstration by hundreds of low-income and hourly workers, who stand to benefit from improved conditions as set out in the agenda.

The Southwest Journal reports they were unhappy with Hodges' decision to scale back her fair scheduling proposal, gathering outside her office silently to signify the way that "City Hall has silenced workers."

Neighborhoods Organizing for Change field director Mike Griffin told the newspaper: "We have two economies in Minneapolis, where some people have access to good jobs with paid sick time and a set schedule, and some people don't."

"And often the people who don't are black. We have been silenced for too long. The people in City Hall can help."

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