Pushing ‘Working Families Agenda,’ Hodges loses Star Tribune

Now that the idea has been scrapped that Minneapolis will dictate the rules about how private businesses schedule their employees, the city is embracing a push requiring all employers to provide paid sick time.

The proposal is still in the draft phase, MPR News’ Jon Collins reports, but it would require employers to provide one hour of sick pay for every 30 hours that are worked. Employers with 21 or more employees would be required to allow the worker to accrue up to 72 hours of sick time, while employees at workplaces with fewer than 21 employees would be able to accrue up to 40 hours of sick time, he reports.

If it becomes law, it’ll be over the strident objection of the Star Tribune, which ran a lengthy editorial today against the city’s involvement in private business. That’s a notable adversary, considering the generally left-leaning principles of the editorial board.

The Star Tribune calls the idea “ill conceived.”

“The first-term mayor would have inspired more confidence in her leadership of the state’s largest and most economically important city if she had buried the scheduling agenda for good and tabled the sick-time proposal pending extensive study and substantial input from workers and employers,” the paper said of the scheduling plan.

But the editorial says there’s no reason to rush to embrace the sick-leave plan.

This page shares the mayor’s concern about income and health disparities not only in Minneapolis, but throughout the metro area and beyond. We endorsed her mayoral candidacy in 2013 and praised her focus on inequality in her State of the City Address in April. But at some point in drafting the Working Families proposal this summer, the agenda was hijacked by a few council members, city staffers and activists who do not seem to grasp that adding significant mandated costs to businesses stifles growth and leads to fewer jobs.

The city should be working to help low-income workers get the education and skills necessary to compete for full-time jobs and, as Hodges puts it, “lift themselves into prosperity and the middle class.” Hodges and the council should be doing everything possible to support the Minneapolis Public Schools in addressing the achievement gap and poor high school graduation rates. It should expand the successful STEP-UP internship program for young people.

The editorial called the proposal “naive economic bullying.”

Related: Working Families Agenda: Help for Employees or Threat to Business (Small Business Trends)