City Council Meeting on ESST – August 17th
Well…it was a long night. We testified on the proposed ESST ordinance and offered six suggestions that we believe would make ESST easier to implement and maintain. While time remains for the Council to adopt these amendments, I don’t believe that we will see any other changes.
In addition, last night there were three new amendments offered, one of which is very punitive to the employer community.
The amendments included:
By Thao: A limited return to private right of action when an employee is dismissed or otherwise retaliated against by an employer. This change (233.06. (c)) is very one sided and does nothing for an employer who has to deal with a malicious employee who is acting in bad faith. What was very disturbing was the crowd cheering as this amendment passed. This demonization of the business community seems central to so much of the activism we encounter today. Employers are cast as the “bad” actors and employees as victims. We clearly have much to do to remind our colleagues, employees, and civic partners as to the risks that employers take every day in creating jobs and sustaining our economy. We all share in this responsibility, and it is central to the mission of the Chamber that we never forget that an economy without jobs is simply non-existent. This amendment passed 4-2 with Tolbert and Noecker voting against it.
By Noecker: An amendment (233.03 (c)) that allows employers to satisfy the requirements of the ordinance if they provide 48 hours of sick and safe time upon employment and 80 hours of ESST in the second year (and subsequent years). We supported this amendment as it simplifies compliance for many of our larger members. The amendment passed 6-0.
By Tolbert: A procedural amendment (233.12 (d)) synchronizing the date of the annual report required by the council of the Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity department. This was non-controversial and passed 6-0.
We had asked the council to consider:
- Creating a size exemption for our smallest employers. When Minneapolis exempts businesses with five or fewer employees, and Saint Paul does not, this creates an imbalance in the competitive cost structure for small businesses.
- We asked for an exemption for highly compensated part-time individuals making over $29/hr. There are many such individuals in employment, particularly in the healthcare industry.
- We asked that the Council support the request by our private college members that student workers, in certain situations, be exempted. Board Member Doug Hennes spoke eloquently on the need for this amendment.
- We asked the Council for one implementation date, versus the two (depending on the size of the employer) that they have today. This would simplify education and implementation.
- We asked the Council to adopt a resolution asking the State to weigh in on ESST and, if they are to move forward, create a uniform standard across the State. (I believe the Council will do this.)
- We asked the Council to fund, in future years, an outside economic consultant to study the impact of this ordinance and to propose, if needed, any changes that would better suit the marketplace.
Next Wednesday (the 24th) the Council will debate the ordinance again in the work session at 3:30 p.m., then to vote to adopt the ordinance during the session that begins at 5:30 p.m. We will be there next week as well.