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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Laurie Pryor (DFL)

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Rep. Pryor votes to approve legislation supporting the safety, health, and economic security of workers

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Saint Paul, MN – Monday, the Minnesota House approved legislation guaranteeing Earned Sick and Safe Time for all Minnesota workers, as well as a sweeping package of safety protections for workers at Minnesota warehouses, and ratified worker contracts for Minnesota state employees.

The House passed legislation requiring Minnesota employers to provide workers Earned Sick and Safe Time. The measure would ensure, at a minimum, one hour of paid Earned Sick and Safe Time for every 30 hours worked, up to at least 48 hours per year. Upwards of 900,000 Minnesota workers, including two-thirds of workers in the lowest wage positions, lack access to paid time off when they or a family member are ill or need to go to a doctor’s appointment. 

“At a time of sickness, injury or emergency, everyone should be able to take care of themselves or a family member,” said Rep. Laurie Pryor (DFL-Minnetonka). “This legislation allows employees to earn time off. This is a matter of worker dignity and necessity. It’s time this important measure becomes law.”

Earned Sick and Safe Time can be used to attend to physical and mental health needs – including illness, injury, or a doctor’s appointment – for workers and their family members. Absence following domestic abuse or sexual assault, if a job site is closed, or if a family member’s school is closed are also eligible uses. Sixteen states have adopted similar policies guaranteeing paid sick leave for workers, as have numerous cities, including Minneapolis, Saint Paul, and Duluth.

Also approved was legislation ratifying the 2020-21 Minnesota Law Enforcement Association contract and the 2022-23 contracts with AFSCME, MAPE, Middle Management Association, the State Residential Schools Education Association, Minnesota Nurses Association, and employees covered under the compensation plans (such as the Managerial Plan and Commissioners Plan). The MLEA contract includes a 2.25% across the board increase in FY20, a 2.5% increase in FY21, and incorporates legislative increases that were passed last session.

“I was proud to vote in support of the state employee agreements,” said Rep. Pryor, co-author of the bill. “It has been a difficult two years, but we could always count on our public employees to show up and get the work done.”

The other agreements include 2.5% across the board increases for state employees in both FY22 and FY23. The agreements submitted by Minnesota Management and Budget cover nearly 39,000 individuals who work across state government serving the citizens of the state. The bill also ratifies contracts and plans for approximately 4,500 Minnesota State employees and faculty.

Also approved was legislation to protect and empower Minnesota’s warehouse workers and to address practices that have led to high injury rates at Amazon facilities.  

The legislation directs the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry to open an investigation into warehouses with an annual injury rate 30 percent higher than the average rate for Minnesota’s warehouse industry to determine if they comply with these provisions. The employer will be required to hold monthly safety committee meetings until the injury rate at the warehouse in question drops below that level for two consecutive years.

Video recording of Monday’s floor debate can be found on the House Public Information Services’ YouTube channel.