Bloomington Council Plans to Mandate YOUR Sick Leave Benefits

Bloomington_City_Hall.jpgRecent letters to the SunCurrent newspaper highlight local opposition to the City Council’s proposed ESSL ordinance (Earned Safe and Sick Leave) to mandate that all businesses with more than 6 employees provide paid sick-leave for all employees – full-time, part-time, seasonal, or temporary.

A short Dec 26, 2021 letter by Bloomington business man David Clark, who ran for city council in 2021, mentioned the budgeted city staff-increases associated with this as among the unneeded “strategic initiatives” which burden local tax-payers. 

In the January 9, 2022 edition, city council member at-large Nathan Coulter, who works as a legislative assistant for DFL Senator Melissa Wicklund, provided a lengthy justification for the council’s sick-leave initiative that boils down to “we want our opinion to control exactly how business owners manage their businesses.” You may read the full letter on the SunCurrent website.

Contrary to Coulter’s assurances regarding timing “just beginning” and consideration of all views, a Task Force  was appointed by the City Council last summer to study this issue and they have virtually completed their work, as discussed at the January 3 City Council meeting. Very little public input was sought and one business/business owner on the Task Force is located in Minneapolis, not Bloomington. Three advocacy groups are also on the Task Force but none are pro-business. Pro-business advocacy groups were excluded.

This idea is not new and COVID is only the latest “hook” upon which the urgency of government intervention is hung. The DFL/Democratic Party’s desire to mandate whether and how businesses offer sick leave benefits has been demonstrated for years, with legislation proposed at national, state and city levels. A quick news search for “mandatory sick leave” will show a relentless yearly succession of proposals that have been defeated at national and state levels. The city-by-city approach has seen some success in Minnesota since 2010 – Minneapolis in 2017, St. Paul in 2016, Duluth in 2020. A 2017 interview with the departing president of St Paul’s Chamber of Commerce describes the anti-jobs statements of the policy-advocates.  In 2020, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that Minneapolis (and by extension other cities) had the authority to impose such mandates.

Earned Sick Leave policies are already offered by 60-70% of employers.  We believe the choice to offer this or any other benefit should be left to the employer based upon their industry, ability to recruit employees and financial condition.  And YOU should be able to keep the balance of benefits that made you choose your employer, not be pigeon-holed into a structure of sick-leave benefits mandated by a government committee. Nor should you then be faced with a bigger tax bill for local government oversight of your employee benefit plan.