Religious Leaders Say “Have Faith” In Sick & Safe Time Ordinance

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Employees should be able to get a paid day off if they are sick or have a sick child, say religious leaders — and they’re lobbying the Minneapolis City Council to pass an ordinance requiring it.

Rev. Jonathan Zielske of ISAIAH says most of those on the Minneapolis City Council are for the proposed ordinance, but are saying “the devil’s in the details.” Zielske says, “given that other cities and municipalities of comparable size have passed it, we think it makes sense for Minneapolis and it’s the right thing for our state.”

Zielske says tens of thousands of low-wage workers would be helped by the ordinance. “We don’t believe it’s going to be a tremendous problem because for many organizations labor is just one small piece. And if you’re talking about earned sick and safe time, this is actually something we believe will benefit the businesses and the community.”

As far as opposition to the ordinance, Zielske says historically there’s always been opposition to helping workers. “Going all the way back to biblical times with Pharaoh, Moses says ‘let my people go’ and (Pharaoh says) ‘no way’. And God finds a way. Sometimes it’s a matter of finding a way, and we believe it can work without driving business out.”

Rev. Grant Stevensen says paid safe and sick time just makes good business sense and several businesses are doing it “ahead of the city.” He points to Butter Bakery in south Minneapolis, which provides safe and sick time. “Do we really want sick people coming to work at a bakery?”

Stevensen says businesses are nervous about the ordinance, “and who can blame them? But time after time after time, we raise the standards for the people who do the work in our businesses and we flourish. And I think that people should just have a little faith and move forward with this understanding (that) when we do the right thing for the people who work for us and we do the right thing for the employees of this city, the city does better.”

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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