Latino Workers: Minneapolis Needs Safe & Sick Time

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“This is about our safety. This is about our health. This is about our children.” say Lisbeth Garcia who works at McDonald’s. She would like the same rights that many other workers have, which is to be able to take paid time off when her children are sick. She says McDonald’s management is very much against granting her and her co-workers what is called earned safe and sick time, so she and several other Latino workers are pushing the City of Minneapolis to change the law.

Minneapolis is considering regulations requiring businesses to provide earned safe and sick time and is holding a series of listening sessions. The first one was held at Mercado Central in south Minneapolis on January 6, 2015. Workplace Partnership Group is holding listening sessions with employers, employees and the community.

“This is a space where workers can have a voice that don’t always get to,” said Veronica Mendez Moore an organizer for Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL).This session was conducted in Spanish.

A proposed sick and safe time ordinance was delayed by the Minneapolis City Council late last year amid concerns the language still needed work.

Employers say workers lie

Moore and CTUL have been lobbying for the sick and safe time. She came to support the workers who spoke, but also to hear what he business owners were saying. “Most of them were saying that they believed a sick days policy should be optional. They talked about how it would impact their business and in many cases devolved into a conversation about how they believe workers lie and decide not to come to work because they’re hungover or they were out late the night before. Workers responded telling stories about situations where they’ve been sick and we’re not allowed to take the day off and talking about how important it is to be able to take care of sick children and take care of yourself when your sick particularly folks were working in industries where they touch people’s food.”

Minneapolis City Council Vice President Elizabeth Glidden has been a long-time supporter of earned safe and sick time. She believes that the city council will have an opportunity to take an up or down vote on it. “There seems to be strong support on the council for a proposal,” said noting that City Council President Barbara Johnson is now a chief author of the earned safe and sick time proposal. “I think that’s very significant.”

Bill Sorem

Bill Sorem is a longtime advertising professional who started with Campbell Mithun and ended up with his own agency. After a tour as a sailing fleet manager in the Virgin Islands he turned to database programming as an independent consultant. He has written sailing guides for the British Virgin Islands and Belize, and written for a number of blogs. In 2010, he volunteered as a citizen journalist with The UpTake and has stayed on as a video reporter.

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