Minnesota Chamber challenges Minneapolis paid sick time ordinance
By Doug Loon, President, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce
Minnesota is blessed with a diverse business landscape – all sizes and types of companies that make up the economic fabric of our state from border to border. Visit any community and see for yourself.
A manufacturer with a couple of hundred employees working shifts. A Main Street retailer providing jobs for a dozen full- and part-time workers. A hospital whose round-the-clock operations often demand that it contracts with an out-of-town company to provide emergency services. A trucking company crisscrossing the state to serve its clients.
Each business has distinctive operations and workplace needs. Each develops wages and salaries, benefits, policies and procedures that best serve the needs of employer and employees. It’s a sure bet the companies don’t share a uniform employee handbook.
Yet, that’s exactly what the city of Minneapolis is mandating with a new ordinance requiring businesses to provide paid sick time leave. The law takes effect July 1, 2017. In a nutshell, companies with six or more employees must provide paid sick and safe time to all employees who work within the city limits at least 80 hours within a year. Companies must comply with the ordinance even if they do not have a location in the city – or even in Minnesota, for that matter.
The Minnesota Chamber has filed a lawsuit to challenge the paid sick time ordinance. The lawsuit asks the judge to strike down the ordinance and in the meantime prevent the city of Minneapolis from enforcing it. The ordinance is unlawful because it conflicts with state law and seeks to regulate in a policy area that is a statewide concern. Simply put, we seek to ensure consistency of workplace laws and prevent a patchwork of city-by-city workplace regulations.
Businesses already have an incentive to compete for employees by offering the best mix of wage and benefits packages. We wholeheartedly support and encourage employers to provide employees with flexible, paid options for providing care to their families.
Flexibility is the key, however. It’s a far better approach to have employers sit down with employees to develop policies that work for individual workplaces. Imposing a one-size-fits-all mandate stifles any creativity and flexibility with a straightjacket.
At the forefront of our efforts is collecting examples of “best practices” in paid sick leave policies from our members and sharing them with the broader business community. We’d like to hear from as many businesses as possible. Please send your examples to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our lawsuit, filed in conjunction with a group of co-plaintiffs, will be watched closely. St. Paul has passed a similar ordinance also scheduled to take effect July 1, 2017. Duluth is considering a local ordinance, too. It’s only a matter of time before other efforts “come to a town near you.”
Beyond the legal flaws, the Minneapolis law is particularly troublesome in practical ways:
- The ordinance imposes significant administrative burdens by requiring companies to track exactly how many hours their employees work within the city limits and to pay lawyers to interpret the ordinance. These burdens will become even greater if other cities enact their own varying ordinances.
- The ordinance extends far beyond the boundaries of Minneapolis. Companies that deliver goods and services into the city, who have employees who telecommute from Minneapolis, or who otherwise have employees who attend meetings and events in Minneapolis will find themselves subject to the ordinance – perhaps unwittingly.
The lawsuit parallels the Minnesota Chamber’s efforts at the Legislature to make explicit the fact that state law preempts municipal regulation of wages and benefits. We, along with our local chamber partners, will renew our efforts in 2017 after the Legislature failed to take action this year.
Employers need consistent, statewide workplace regulations. However, mandates on everyday business operations are not appropriate coming from any level of government. Businesses across the state already are adopting paid leave policies designed to meet the particular needs of their enterprise and their employees. State and local policymakers should be encouraging this trend and not imposing one-size-fits-all mandates.
Doug Loon is president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce – www.mnchamber.com.
Minnesota Chamber Releases Minnesota Business Benchmarks
Annual report reaffirms innovative, skilled talent; workforce shortage a growing concern
A talented workforce remains a backbone of a growing Minnesota economy, according to the Minnesota Business Benchmarks. But the second annual report produced by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and its local Chamber Federation partners cautions that Minnesota could be losing its advantage.
“Our members regularly cite shortage of workers and high taxes as the two biggest impediments to growing and investing in Minnesota. The difficulty of finding workers at all skill levels across all industries is a huge issue for Minnesota businesses,” Chamber President Doug Loon said. “The problem already is exacerbated by a slowing growth in the working-age population coupled with the retiring baby boomers. Plus, we struggle with the persistent achievement gap among students of color.”
The report highlights an additional strain on the workforce. Minnesota is losing more people to other states than it is gaining. This trend is hindering growth opportunities for many companies, Loon said.
Business Benchmarks is a collection of key economic indicators that measure Minnesota’s competitiveness and the health of the state’s economy compared with the rest of the country. Comprehensive, objective data was compiled from sources such as state and federal agencies.
Minnesota continues to lead in many categories, the report shows. But it is slipping in key areas, too.
On the positive front, innovation remains a trademark with Minnesota ranking fourth highest among states in patents per capita. The state ranks second in the nation for residents with at least a two-year degree. It is 10th best in concentration of STEM jobs – science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The good news/bad news dynamics, however, are reflected in economic growth, Loon said. Minnesota ranked 13th among states for GDP growth in 2015, up from 27th the previous year and tied at the national average of 2.4-percent growth. That improvement, however, was largely on the strength of the first quarter. Minnesota ranked 41st when viewing GDP growth for the final three quarters of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016.
Minnesota improved in job growth and personal income growth but still lags the national averages – ranking 29th and 30th, respectively, Loon noted. And its standing in key tax categories was largely unchanged from 2014. The state is still third highest in the nation for its corporate and income tax rates, and second highest for some business property taxes.
The Business Benchmarks provides an excellent springboard for priorities to focus on at the 2017 Legislature, Loon said. Policymakers and business leaders must work collectively to build on the state’s strengths and minimize its weaknesses.
“We cannot rest on our past successes. We must continue to adapt to changing competitive pressures,” Loon said. “Our work at the Minnesota Chamber is to make Minnesota ready for the future – ready for change and ready to grow.”
For the full report, click here.
Employers of Excellence
Winners of the inaugural Employers of Excellence program will be announced May 25
In recognition of the inaugural Employers of Excellence pilot program, Dakota and Scott counties will name award winners at an event on Wednesday, May 25 from 7:30–9 a.m. at the Eagan Community Center.
The keynote speaker for the award presentation will be Gerry Hoeffner, President of Personnel Dynamics Consulting Group. With two decades of employee development experience, Hoeffner has an energizing approach to training employees and management teams. His experience in manufacturing, retail sales, financial services, and the medical field provides a broad spectrum of insight and knowledge to his work, and his experience working with hundreds of companies provides him with practical and useful insights for organizations of all sizes.
Small businesses that participated in the program completed a 40-question survey, covering employee training and development, hiring and retention of employees, benefit plans and more. Employers of Excellence Award recipients will have top rankings in these categories.
A report featuring the results of the survey and includes area employee recruitment and retention trends is provided to each organization allowing them to see how they compare to other employers, so they might develop a baseline of workforce best practices for their own organization.
For more information on the Employers of Excellence program, contact Workforce Development Board Director Mark Jacobs at 651-554-5622 or go to http://mn.gov/deed/excellence, which includes a link to the survey. Click on the “Employers of Excellence” tab.
If you’d like to attend, please RSVP to email@example.com by May 13. For more information, call 651-554-5633.
All costs are being covered by the Workforce Development Board and area sponsors including Dakota County Technical College, Inver Hills Community College, Dakota County Community Development Agency and Scott County Community Development Agency.
Annual River Heights Chamber Golf Classic Open to Business Community
New Times, New Auctions, Same Great Fundraiser
Inver Grove Heights/South Saint Paul – The River Heights Chamber of Commerce invites the community to golf in the Chamber’s Annual Golf Classic fundraiser presented by AirTech Heating & Cooling, on Monday, June 20, 2016 at Southview Country Club at 239 E. Mendota Road in West St. Paul.
Southview Country Club is a premier 18-hole course whose sheer aesthetic beauty lies in stark contrast to the challenge it provides to golfers of every skill level. It is the kind of course you never grow tired of playing, and are always proud to bring your guests to. Today, Southview is noted for its immaculate rolling fairways, mature trees, numerous water hazards featuring fountains and magnificent landscaping. And of course, the finest greens in this part of the country.
June 20th is promised to be filled with fun including a Bloody Mary/Mimosa bar while you get checked-in and practice your swings, contests on the course, and a ball drop contest and awards BBQ following the day’s play. Registration begins at 10 a.m., with a shot gun start for teams at 11:00 a.m. For more event times of the day, visit our event page here. An online auction will be sure to please with great items starting June 1st running through the tournament on June 20th (watch for the link coming soon).
One lucky winner of the Chamber’s May online auction (May 16 – May 27 ) will get to add a celebrity to their foursome at this year’s tournament. Adam Thielen, wide receiver for the Minnesota Vikings will be joining a team to play in the River Heights Chamber’s Golf Classic. Adam was a local college standout at Mankato State University and signed with the Vikings in 2013 as an undrafted free agent. “We’re excited to have Adam with us on June 20th and see his talents on the golf course vs. the football field,” says Travis Jensen of Home Federal Savings Bank and Golf Task Force Chair.
Special thanks to these businesses for being major sponsors of the tournament: AirTech Heating & Cooling, Antonsen Construction, Home Federal Savings Bank, Quality Auto Care Center and Sanimax.
Golf is $175/golfer (after May 16th) or a discounted rate of $600 per foursome. Guests may attend the BBQ dinner only for $35/person to network and socialize. For more information on the golf tournament or to register to attend, visit us online at www.riverheights.com/golf or call the River Heights Chamber of Commerce at 651.451.2266.