City Council Votes On Latest Earned Sick and Safe Time Amendments

There have been more than 18 amendment to the ESST ordinance.

DULUTH, Minn. – It’s been debated for months, whether to establish new minimum standards for Duluth workers to Earn Sick and Safe Time (ESST) at their jobs.

The Duluth City Council is once again discussing the issue with two new amendments being introduced.

Several small business owners were in downtown Duluth in support of this ordinance.

They’re ready for this ordinance to pass.

Elizabeth Spehar owns the Snooty Fox Tea Shop in Duluth.

She was front and center at a press conference in support of the ESST ordinance.

“I believe it builds trust and loyalty between the employer and the employee,” said Spehar.

She believes it’s about having healthy and happy employees and says the ordinance would allow employees to take time off when needed.

“We’re growing,” said Spehar. “So if you’ve got folks out there saying no, this is going to hurt businesses, I can tell you I use these policies and I’m growing. I’m experiencing success.”

The council is considering two new amendments to this ordinance at tonight’s meeting.

One amendment is having the accrual rate be one hour of ESST for every 50 hours worked.

The other is exempting seasonal employees from accruing earned sick and safe time.

“In cities that have this or businesses, companies that have paid time off policy they see less turnover,” said Councilor Noah Hobbs. “There’s going to be a cost–saving on that. It certainly will be a slight cost increase to some businesses that may not already provide this benefit, but it could be mitigated by longer tenured employees.”

Councilor Noah Hobbs says debate about has been the longest of any issue since he’s been in office.

“I’m frustrated with the delay,” said Spehar. “I think our community is ready to pass this, implement it become stronger and move towards the next challenge and opportunity.”

Several other Duluth businesses have previously spoken out against this ordinance calling it way too costly to have in place.

At least 20 restaurants are against the ordinance as well as Duluth’s largest employer, St. Luke’s Hospital.

“There are going to be consequences to that. Prices will raise, maybe jobs will be lost as we’re going to find a way to cut back on costs,” said Grandma’s Restaurant Manager Tony Bronson. “Unintended consequences are what we are afraid of with this mandate.”

If one or both amendments pass the council would not vote on the changed ordinance until the end of May.

If both amendments fail, then the council will vote on the ordinance as is.

Categories: Community, Minnesota, News, News – Latest News