D.C. Small Businesses Win Big With Paid Leave

This is a game-changer for D.C. small businesses. 

The D.C. small business community scored a huge win today, with the City Council’s final vote of 9-4 to pass the Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act (UPLA). This comprehensive paid family and medical leave bill will guarantee about 530,000 business owners and their employees the ability to care for themselves or their loved ones without risking financial ruin. The program will be funded through a nominal employer payroll contribution of 0.62% per employee.

“This is a game-changer for small businesses. This paid family leave program is desperately needed for working families and small businesses alike,” said Ethel Taylor, the owner of the Doggie Washerette in D.C. “As a small business owner, if I'd had access to a program like this when my husband presented with stage 4 cancer, my business would have had the resources and staffing needed to continue to grow. This bill is good business for small businesses and for the District.”

The victory for D.C.’s small business community is a long time coming. For over a year, small business owners have joined advocates in supporting this economy-boosting legislation and rejecting attempts to impose harmful amendments. Most recently, Main Street Alliance members helped defeat an amendment which would have eliminated the insurance pool, shifting the full responsibility for absorbing the cost of employees’ paid leave onto the employer.

“I'm excited that the UPLA passed because it means small businesses like mine can finally get paid leave at an affordable rate,” said Doron Petersan, the owner of Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats and FareWell Diner Bakery Bar, both in D.C. “If signed into law, this bill will help level the playing field for all businesses. Small business owners like me will now be able to proudly offer this benefit alongside big box stores at a reasonable cost.”

Despite this victory, the United States is still one of the only major countries in the world without a national paid family and medical leave program. Congress should follow the lead of California, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and now Washington D.C., and create a federal paid leave standard that supports small business owners and their communities.

D.C. Council Member Evan's Paid Leave Employer Mandate Will Harm Small Businesses

The proposal, which would likely cost thousands of dollars per employee, would be disastrous for small business owners, driving many into financial ruin.

The Main Street Alliance strongly opposes Council Member Jack Evans' amendment to the Universal Paid Leave Act of 2016, which would devastate small business owners struggling to compete with their larger competitors. Rather than relying on a social insurance pool--a model which would enable even the smallest business owners to offer leave for their employees and themselves--Evans' proposal would shift the full responsibility for absorbing the cost of employees’ paid leave on the employer.

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New Jersey Business Owner To D.C. Council: Paid Family Leave Works for Main Street

In a letter addressed to D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser and the City Council, Tony Sandkamp, the owner of Sandkamp Woodworks in Jersey City, explains why D.C.'s small business community needs Universal Paid Family Leave. 


Wilson Building
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20004

Dear Mayor Bowser and DC City Council:

I write to you as a successful business owner and member of the Main Street Alliance of New Jersey to urge you to create a paid family leave program in Washington, D.C. along the lines of what we have here in my home state of New Jersey.

I am the owner of Sandkamp Woodworks LLC, a small independent business focusing on custom architectural woodworking, based in Jersey City, New Jersey. Starting a business like mine isn't easy, but New Jersey's paid family leave system really helps entrepreneurs like me get off the ground. Because we are all covered under New Jersey's program, I knew I would be covered if something happened to me and my family, and I could attract top talent and offer benefits comparable to what my employees would get in a big established firm in my industry.

I have had personal experience in using the insurance pool.  With just a handful of full-time, highly trained employees who are difficult to replace, my business suffers financially any time a valued employee leaves.  A few years ago,  my most valuable (and highest paid) employee informed me that his wife was having twins and would need to take time off to care for them.  Without a social insurance pool I could never have afforded to offer these benefits, and would have undoubtedly been at risk of losing him to a larger company, that could have ably provided these benefits.  However, because of the insurance system in place, I was able to offer him this benefit. If I were mandated to provide these benefits out of pocket, I would live in fear of the day that one of my valued employees got sick or injured. Instead, our state system means that I can trust my staff and I are covered, and even for a much more lengthy leave than the DC program proposes to offer.

Yes, this program involves a lot of money and work to get things started. But once it's running I'm sure that you will see that these costs are completely worth it, because this benefit is a huge investment in the businesses of your city and the people who work in them. I urge you to be brave and take this step - I know that when your program is running successfully, countless business owners will thank you for your leadership, and you'll look back and wonder what D.C. ever did without it.


Tony Sandkamp
Sandkamp Woodworks LLC


Andrew Puzder’s Nomination to Labor Secretary an Affront to Main Street

The fast-food mogul has railed against economy-boosting policies and business and employee-friendly legislation supported by Main Street members.

Andrew Puzder, of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s fame, was selected today to join the President-Elect’s administration as Secretary of Labor. A critic of minimum wage increases and basic job protections, Puzder is already at odds with the will of Main Street small business owners and their employees.

Small business owners in the Main Street Alliance network know that basic workplace protections like access to paid sick leave, paid family and medical leave, and fair wages help grow business owner’s bottom line by increasing employee productivity, reducing turnover, and boosting the labor supply.  Furthermore, these policies help prevent a race to the bottom–supporting high-road businesses who want to offer quality jobs through ensuring the costs are spread evenly.

“The selection of Andrew Puzder to head the Labor Department is a callous disregard for the small businesses on Main Street who look to regulation to level the playing field with large corporations like Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr.,” said Amanda Ballantyne, Main Street Alliance National Director. “Small businesses do better when our customers have the ability to spend and our competitors are held to a basic standard of job quality and employee compensation.”

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In Experience That Matters Most, Linda McMahon is Lacking

Without public administrative experience, WWE co-founder Linda McMahon is ill-equipped to head the Small Business Administration and act in the best interests of Main Street.

Yesterday, President-Elect Trump announced his nomination of Linda McMahon to head the Small Business Administration (SBA), immediately raising eyebrows in the small business community. With a personal net worth of more than $500 million, Ms. McMahon is out of touch with the real small business owners she is tasked with assisting at the SBA.  

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Scott Pruitt-led EPA Could Spell Disaster for Main Street

In heading the EPA, Pruitt will make it more difficult for his agency to address the health, safety, and financial security of small business owners and our customers.

Today, President-Elect Trump announced Scott Pruitt as his selection to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Pruitt is a staunch opponent of the agency he’s tapped to lead and would almost certainly spearhead efforts to pull back regulations and usher in a host of dangerous changes to our regulatory safeguard system.

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Minneapolis Small Business Owners Celebrate New Investments in 2017 City Budget

Main Street Alliance of Minnesota joins allied groups in support of city’s move to create a better environment for small businesses.

Small business and community members with Jewish Community Action, Main Street Alliance of Minnesota, and MetroIBA celebrated two amendments proposals in the 2017 City of Minneapolis Budget that would significantly improve communication, outreach, education and streamlining business touch-points for small and micro businesses.

The proposed amendments add three full-time positions within the Minneapolis City Coordinator’s Office and the Community Planning and Economic Department (CPED) to create a “Small Business Team” and direct staff to “align and/or reorganize small business touch points across the enterprise.”

At a morning press conference, small businesses, community leaders, and Council Members discussed both the challenges facing small businesses and the merits of the amendments.  

“Many immigrant business owners in our City don’t speak English fluently or are computer savvy, explained Kayf Ahmed, the owner of Capitol Cafe on Franklin. “Having “navigators’ on the ground to help simplify the process of starting a business will help tremendously in answering questions and nurturing growth, and help ensure entrepreneurs can be successful.”

“We lost thousands of dollars because of miscommunication and a licensing issue that shut our doors for two months,” said Aisha Wadud, owner of Nura Holistic Massage. “The City needs to have better communication with businesses, and you shouldn’t have to be well-connected to get help with red tape and other problems.”12-7-16_Small_Biz_Press_Conference.jpg

KB Brown, the Co-Chair of Main Street Alliance of Minnesota, elaborated, “We want to live and do business in a city where everyone can thrive - for our employees, our customers and our small businesses. These amendments will create a better more equitable environment for small and micro businesses.”

“By building and fostering small business growth, we also support non-traditional business owners and produce local wealth, thereby reinvesting locally…..This office will give our city the tools to truly put action behind the words that Minneapolis is a great place to establish your new business and for your business to grow,” commented Harvey Zuckman, a volunteer with MetroIBA.

“I really see this effort as supporting small businesses, supporting local reinvestment, and ultimately contributing to the sustainability and growth of Minneapolis’ tax base. There’s precedent for positions such as these across the country, and I’m honored to have worked with such a strong group of partners, and the City, to make this possible. Minneapolis will certainly be stronger by supporting a diverse array of businesses and diversity among its small business owners,” said Lyndel Owens, an organizer with Jewish Community Action.

Over the past year, MetroIBA, Main Street Alliance, and Jewish Community Action have advocated the idea of establishing a small business office, and, in this year’s proposed budget, Mayor Betsy Hodges dedicated one full-time position and additional funding to begin to address the needs of small business in the city, and the City Council responded to that need by dedicating two additional positions to that effort.

"Most small business owners are not born into wealth; they work hard, plan, and save to pursue their dreams. These entrepreneurial spirits are the definition of passion and courage, and they invest so heavily in forming the unique spaces and services that make our city great" said Council Member Andrew Johnson. "Today we recommit to encouraging anyone and everyone who dreams of starting their own business, to support them and help them overcome obstacles, and to help all our small businesses grow and succeed."

“We are thrilled that the City Council has voted unanimously to dedicate the resources, both in staffing and direction,  to ensure the needs of small businesses who want to get established and who want to grow in the city have the full resources of Minneapolis supporting them in that endeavor” added Zuckman.

Victory Today for Small Businesses in Washington, DC.

D.C. City Council votes 11-2 to pass Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act 

The DC small business community applauds the City Council for voting 12-1 to pass The Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2015 out of the Committee of the Whole today. The bill, which will provide paid leave for DC workers in a health emergency or for the care of a newborn, will create a city fund through an employer contribution with a 0.62% payroll tax.

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Evan’s Amendment to D.C. Paid Family And Medical Leave Bill Hurts Small Businesses

Main Street Alliance Opposes Council Member Evans' Amendment to Gut Social Insurance Model from Universal Paid Leave Act

The Main Street Alliance strongly opposes Council Member Jack Evans' amendment to the Universal Paid Leave Act of 2016, which would devastate small business owners struggling to compete with their larger competitors.  Rather than relying on a social insurance pool--a model which would enable even the smallest business owners to offer leave for their employees and themselves--Evans' proposal would shift the full responsibility for absorbing the cost of employees’ paid leave on the employer.  

“[Council Member Evans'] proposal for employers to pay directly for their employees’ leave is motivated by a desire to save money for the city’s largest employers and corporations, hanging small and medium size business owners like me out to dry,” said Fatima Nayir, the owner of Mama’s Pizza in Anacostia and a member of the DMV Small Business Alliance, a project of Main Street Alliance.

Main Street Small Business Owners Balk at Donald Trump’s Nomination of Steve Mnuchin to Treasury Secretary

Main Street business owners brace for the impact of President-Elect Trump’s latest cabinet nominee, Steven Mnuchin.

Mnuchin, a Wall Street insider whose success has been built at the expense of small business owners and their communities, was one of the architects of the financial crisis. He and his companies engaged in extractive business tactics that crippled the economy and forced countless small businesses to close their doors.

After amassing a small fortune during his tenure with Goldman Sachs, Mnuchin led OneWest Financial, a predatory financial institution that had no significant branch presence in communities of color, rarely lent to small businesses, and has been accused of discriminatory lending practices. Given the very real challenges small business owners of color face in accessing and securing loans, it is profoundly disheartening that someone with Mnuchin’s track record would be offered this appointment.  

Mnuchin even managed to pocket more than $3 million from the Madoff-led Ponzi scheme that cost investors more than $65 billion.

Having promised to “drain the swamp,” Mr. Trump continues to fill his cabinet with the very Washington insiders and Wall Street hedge fund managers he rallied against on the campaign trail. Mnuchin, who accumulated a massive wealth at the expense of small business owners and hardworking Americans, should not be trusted to steward the U.S. economy and promote prosperity and financial security for small business owners, our customers, or our families.


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