The 3rd Ward is the beating heart of the Minneapolis economy, and if there are going to be great jobs for workers, we need to support and grow small businesses that are owned in the community, spend their money in the community, and stay in the community for the long term.
We have to do everything we can as a city to make sure that jobs in Minneapolis can support a family and meet the current cost of living. Someone working for $9.00 an hour isn’t living well in this city, and we all know it. That’s why I supported Earned Safe and Sick Time, it’s why I support workers’ right to organize, and it’s why I supported a $15 minimum wage without exemptions.
In my past work with Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, Minnesota 2020, and SEIU, I’ve played a role both in organizing in the streets and establishing the policy foundation for the Fight for $15, as well as the statewide minimum wage increase to $9.50, indexed to inflation, before that. Putting money into the hands of workers guarantees it will be spent and re-circulated in our community, and raising the minimum wage is the clearest, most straightforward way to close a persistent income gap in our city.
At the same time, as we ask small business owners to be part of our citywide solution to structural inequality, we need to step up as a city and support our small businesses. That means streamlining regulatory and inspections processes to make it easier to launch and maintain small businesses. It means using our own procurement to pump money into our local business economy, and to promote local businesses every chance we get. And, it means re-examining our practice of imposing special sales taxes on downtown businesses to pay for stadiums and convention centers. That may have made sense in a past, tourist-centric version of downtown, but as downtown thrives as a neighborhood, we should reconsider the competitive disadvantage we place on Ward 3 small businesses to pay for amenities the whole metro area uses.
The issues that hourly workers have raised around fair scheduling are serious ones that need to be addressed, and underscore a more fundamental problem: a lack of full-time jobs in low-wage industries that have been deliberately “part-timed”. Workers need to be able to make a genuine choice between full- and part-time work, plan their budgets around relatively predictable hours, and plan their lives without constraint from making plans during their non-working hours because they’re worried about missing last-minute opportunities to earn. Right now, workers bear all of the costs of unpredictable scheduling. A fair scheduling proposal asks employers to share in the cost of disrupting work schedules on short notice.
A good fair scheduling bill will provide workers more power over their schedules while addressing the concerns raised in 2015 about the disproportionate burden an overly broad law could place on small and seasonal local businesses. We need to, and we can listen to local business owners and maintain a strong local business economy at the same time we improve quality of life for workers.