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Local Money

Small businesses fight against proposed Minnesota laws

Lizzie O'Leary Oct 16, 2015
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We’re trying something new here on Marketplace Weekend that we’re calling Local Money. We want to hear about the stories happening in your neighborhood that you think more people need to hear about. Submit your idea here.

Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges recently unveiled a plan that would require businesses to provide mandatory sick time and set schedules four weeks in advance to employees. Businesses that canceled shifts within four weeks would be required to pay employees. The proposal was later changed to a two-week scheduling requirement after opposition from local businesses.

Curtis Gilbert from Minnesota Public Radio joined the show to explain the journey of the proposal.

On the controversial fair scheduling reform:

This was an idea that was born in San Francisco…. Basically, the idea of it is that workers are having their schedules changed at the last minute. It makes it difficult for them to find childcare, to take second jobs, to pursue education, even to have a social life. So it would essentially give them a right to know their schedule a certain amount of time in advance, or to be compensated, kind of like getting overtime. 

On the fierce opposition to this reform:

The specific proposal in Minneapolis … would’ve applied to every employer in the city. So the face of the opposition to this in Minneapolis was a very sympathetic one, you know, it’s small business owners who say, “Look we can’t set our schedules [four weeks in advance], you know, the weather happens.” We heard this from people who run restaurants who have outdoor patios: “We could try to set the schedule in September for October, well it might snow in October, and then we’re going to close the patio, and we’re operating on thin margins, and so we have to be able to change our schedules in response to changing business conditions.”

On where to go from here:

Because the opposition to this scheduling was so strong and so vociferous and so well organized, it actually had pulled a lot of attention away from other parts of the proposal which are probably more popular and less controversial. The main one there is this guarantee of sick time. About 40 percent of American workers have no access to paid sick leave, and that number is much higher when you talk about part-time workers, low-income workers, hourly workers, people from minority communities. I think the calculations that the politicians in Minneapolis made was that there was perhaps less opposition to this idea of sick leave … so I think they figured, focus on the thing that’s a little more likely to pass and try and cut back the opposition, which was becoming, as we learned this week, overwhelming to the fair scheduling part of it.

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