A Historic Win for Workers and #PaidSick4All

Today the Minneapolis City Council passed a historic earned sick and safe time ordinance, making Minneapolis the 27th city in the country and first in the Midwest to extend sick time to most workers in the city. The ordinance will take effect in July 2017.

“Today's vote is a tremendous victory for low-wage workers of color who fought for, demanded, and won better workplace protections,” said Anthony Newby, executive director of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change. “Addressing economic inequality is crucial to solving Minnesota’s persistent racial disparities. Earned sick and safe time for Minneapolis workers is an important step in the right direction.”

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“Passing earned sick and safe time is a huge victory for workers and our families. Fast food workers and janitors with CTUL have been striking for the past few years for higher wages, union rights, a voice in the workplace and benefits like paid sick days and finally our city is taking a big step to help us workers and our families. We deserve to take care of our health and our families as well,” said Guillermo Lindsay, a McDonald’s worker and member of Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL) member.

The vote came after a yearlong campaign led by Minneapolis workers of color organizing for stronger protections, including paid sick time, predictive scheduling, an end to wage theft, and a $15 minimum wage. Throughout 2015 and in early 2016, hundreds of low-wage workers held forums, marches, rallies, and went on strike, sharing their stories on social media, with their council members, and with the press.

“The passage of Earned Sick and Safe Time not only secures the income of my customer base--it is a step forward in solving the racial and gender-based disparities growing here in Minneapolis,” said Dan Swenson-Klatt, owner of Butter Bakery Cafe. “When working families have a reliable income that they can count on, regardless of unexpected illnesses, it boosts the collective wealth of our community."  

41% of Minneapolis workers lack access to a single day of paid sick time, disproportionately people of color and women. The paid sick time ordinance was hailed as a crucial step toward racial equity in a city with some of the worst racial disparities in the country.

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Erika Sanchez, a member of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change who works at a Holiday gas station and suffers from leukemia, said, “I was unable to care for my health properly through dialysis and eventually chemotherapy because of restrictions at my job. Had I had earned sick time, I would have been able to care for myself. This ordinance isn’t just speaking to me and my personal issue. It will make things better for workers throughout the city.”

The ordinance closely followed the recommendations of the city’s Workplace Partnership Group, appointed by the mayor and City Council in November to develop recommendations for a sick time ordinance and consisting of representatives of business and workers.

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"This is a huge win for the city and for workers like me,” said Chris Pennock, an hourly worker and member of Working America. “The ordinance reflects the needs that working people and community members highlighted at the ten-plus listening sessions I participated in as a member of the Workplace Partnership Group. What we heard was clear: Minneapolis working people need to be able to take time off to care for themselves or their families without losing pay. It's incredibly exciting to see the Partnership's efforts turn out a smart policy that will help Minneapolis stay healthy and productive."

Over 100,000 people are expected to gain access to paid sick days under the new law. Workers at businesses with six or more employees will be able to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 worked, up to a maximum of 48 accrued hour per year. At businesses with five or fewer employees, the leave will be unpaid.

"I am happy that paid sick days is passing in Minneapolis because this is a huge help for us and our families,” said Pasqual Tapia, a CTUL member and janitor. “In my case, without paid sick days I can't financially support my kids in Mexico who have chronic health conditions. It's either my health or theirs that is jeopardized so this will be a huge relief."

Earlier this month, 70 people shared emotional testimony with the City Council, overwhelmingly in support of the ordinance. On Thursday the City Council strengthened the proposed ordinance with amendments to ensure enforcement provisions and to cover casual nurses.

“As a registered nurse who worked casual in the city of Minneapolis for many years in order to take care of my family, I am thrilled by the unanimous agreement made today by the Minneapolis City Council,” said Charlotte Kava Zabawa, a nurse and member of the Minnesota Nurses Association. “From a public health perspective, it makes no sense for workers who handle food or care for infants or elderly patients to go to work sick.”

The city of St. Paul is also studying paid sick time and is expected to pass an ordinance by the end of the summer. Duluth is also considering a paid sick time ordinance.

“As a restaurant with multiple locations, I am happy to see a strong policy pass--it is a long awaited victory,” said Abdirahman Kahin, owner of Afro Deli. “This should set an example for St. Paul and the rest of Minnesota and work to ensure employees statewide have access to the same basic workplace protections.”

“Today’s final vote by the City Council to approve one of the strongest earned sick and safe time ordinances in the country represents the work of a movement of workers from throughout Minneapolis who harnessed the power of organizing to win the right to put their family’s health and wellbeing first,” said Dan McGrath, executive director of TakeAction Minnesota. “That organizing, and all of the organizations and individuals who came together helped to make today’s historic vote a reality and we have been proud to be part of it. However, for Minnesotans, this is only a first step toward healthier and more vibrant communities. We will continue our work with community members and elected leaders in St. Paul and Duluth to expand earned sick and safe time.” 

Follow the win on Twitter at #PaidSick4All. 

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  • published this page in News 2016-05-27 15:22:01 -0500

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