Minneapolis Businesses Concerned About Potential One-Size-Fits-All Labor Rules

The city of Minneapolis is considering creating a new labor standards board to provide recommendations about potential regulations. Proponents say that the board would create more labor-friendly policies to support the local workforce. But many small businesses in the city argue that increased regulations would stifle their businesses.

The proposed Labor Standards Board wouldn’t have the power to unilaterally pass new regulations. But they would be able to provide guidance and recommendations, allowing legislators to potentially fast track changes. The purpose is to ease burdens on workers, especially those in low-wage positions.

However, some business groups in the city, especially those representing restaurants and hospitality businesses, are upset. These businesses have already faced major hardships due to the pandemic and subsequent worker shortages. And additional regulations could make it tough to stay in operation.

Jared Brewington, owner of Official Fried Chicken in Minneapolis, wrote in a recent opinion piece for the Minnesota Reformer, “In general a labor standards board would be given immense power to craft industry-specific wage, benefit and labor laws, which would then be subject to an up or down vote by the City Council. While I wholeheartedly agree with the intent — protecting and investing in our city’s workforce — I worry that the proposal entirely ignores existing employee protections in Minneapolis and would result in the fast-tracking of new mandates that could cripple small businesses like mine.”

The precise language of this proposed board and any legislation they might recommend is still not publicly available. So there are some business groups, like the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, have not formally commented on it and are instead trying to help shape the specifics of any potential proposal to protect business members.

Overall, creating policies that support workers can ultimately work for businesses as well. Providing positive working conditions may lead to decreased turnover and improved morale. However, sweeping regulations often don’t include the nuances that make each business, and the needs and preferences of their employees, different.

Brewington continued, “Currently, there are disparities within Minnesota’s labor market, disproportionately affecting people of color. These disparities indeed need targeted interventions. However, a one-size-fits-all approach across sectors, as proposed in the labor standards board model, ignores the nuanced challenges small businesses face daily — and the reality that we know our employees best, and are in the most effective position to address their concerns.”

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Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.