The Minnesota legislature reconvened for the 2019 legislative session on April 23. As the clock ticks towards the May 20 adjournment here is a rundown of the status of some worker-friendly bills.
- Paid Family and Medical Leave-HF5 Part of the Jobs and Energy Omnibus Bill
The coalition of Minnesotans for Paid Family and Medical Leave is advocating for up to 12 weeks of "partial wage replacement" during pregnancy and medical leave. Employees would also get 12 weeks of partially paid family leave, which could include caring for a newborn or a sick family member. It would replace 80 - 55 percent of wages, depending on income.
Minnesotans for Paid Family and Medical Leave released the following statement:
“We are incredibly excited and hopeful for the state of Minnesota with the passing of the House of Representatives’ Jobs and Energy Omnibus Bill! This is especially true with the inclusion of HF5, a robust and comprehensive Paid Family and Medical Leave policy for all Minnesotan families. This bill makes it possible for every single working family in Minnesota to receive a paycheck while also doing things like caring for and bonding with a new child, being with family during the end of their life, and taking care of ourselves during medical tragedies.
This is a true display of the caring Minnesota that we know is possible and the one that most Minnesotans fought to come to fruition both with their votes during the 2018 election and in their daily struggles for them and their families to thrive and survive. Black or white, rural or city, rich or poor, left or right, all Minnesotan families deserve paid time to care for themselves and their families. This simple, fair policy where everyone contributes and everyone benefits reinforces that an equitable, healthy and caring economy and Minnesota is possible.”
- Ending Wage Theft -HF6 Part of the Jobs & Energy omnibus bill
Legislation to address wage theft also is included in the omnibus jobs bill (HF 2208) and in a stand-alone bill, HF 6.
“The House bill reflects the priorities of the Coalition to End Wage Theft and the experiences of directly-affected workers, employers, advocates, and the Department of Labor who have been working together to address this problem for years,” Melissa Hysing, the Minnesota AFL-CIO’s legislative director said
“The wage theft bill in the House is bi-partisan,” she noted. “It has bi-partisan authors and has received multiple bi-partisan votes.”
In the Senate, however, the companion bill — SF 1933 — was not even accorded a hearing by Senate leadership.
A Republican wage theft bill in the Senate — SF 1816 — is weak on enforcement, Hysing said, and contains provisions harmful to workers.
(For example, the bill would require a worker who experienced wage theft to submit a written demand to his or her employer for payment five days before the Department of Labor would be allowed to investigate).
The same weak wage theft bill is in the Senate’s omnibus jobs bill, SF 2611, which also includes language to preempt the City of Minneapolis $15 minimum wage and earned sick time ordinances.
Following the Minnesota House vote on the Jobs & Energy omnibus bill, the Stop Wage Theft coalition issued the following statement.
"Minnesotans believe in a state built on fundamental values like honesty, decency, and fairness. Yet the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry has said that at least 39,000 Minnesotans report having their wages stolen each year by their employers. This pervasive wage theft runs counter to the state we want to build. It means families across our state are unable to live our lives because employers outright don't pay wages, force workers to work off the clock or during their lunch, misclassify workers and more. This happens across every type of job and in every corner of our state, harming tens of thousands of families.
"Our coalition has worked for years to address this crisis, and we are excited that the Minnesota House passed the omnibus jobs and energy bill today that included HF6, the bill designed to help stop wage theft in Minnesota. We know we can build a state where every family -- black, brown, white or indigenous -- can live safe and happy lives, but we can't get there if employers are allowed to get away with stealing wages. Today was a big step towards stopping wage theft in Minnesota and ensuring our friends, family and neighbors get every hour paid. This is common sense. We look forward to the Senate listening to the voices of Minnesotans and moving a bill to match the the strong, bipartisan HF6 so Governor Walz can sign it into law.”
- Paid Sick Time -HF11 Part of the Jobs & Energy omnibus bill
Tonight, the Minnesota House is expected to pass Earned Sick and Safe Time in the omnibus Jobs bill, which would expand paid sick days across the state. Three cities, Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth, have already passed local sick time ordinances. The House bill would allow workers up to 48 hours per year to care for themselves or a loved one.
TakeAction Minnesota and SEIU State Council released the following statement:
“We applaud the Minnesota House for their omnibus Jobs and Energy bill, which includes HF11, the paid sick time bill. Paid time to care is critical to building a family friendly state that works for all of us. Minnesotans believe every person has inherent worth and dignity and that no one should have to choose between caring for themselves or a loved one and a paycheck.
For years, women, people of color, and working people have raised our voices for this basic workplace standard. Paid time to care means being able to comfort a sick child, go to the doctor, and seek safety, without losing pay.
We’re excited that paid sick time was included in the House Jobs bill. At the same time, we’re deeply disappointed that instead of advancing paid time to care, the state Senate is continuing to push preemption laws that strip away our local democracy and block local sick time ordinances, as well as $15 wages. It’s wrong. We’re an abundant and resourceful state—we have enough for everyone to thrive. It’s time to pass paid sick time statewide.”
The article was written with contributions from Steve Share at the Minneapolis Labor Review