Ohio senators, faith leaders, small business owners, and doctors gathered at Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square to urge lawmakers to support legislation that ends workplace discrimination against pregnant women.
If passed, the bill would lay out a set of commonsense rules for business owners that ensure accommodations are being made for pregnant and breastfeeding employees. Too many women are forced to make the impossible decision of losing their income or continuing to work when the nature of their work may be harmful to them or their child.
Members of the Main Street Alliance met last month with State Senator Charleta Tavares (D)- District 15 at a roundtable discussion at a Columbus jewelry store. There, the group discussed the economic impact imposed on a family forced to lose income during a pregnancy and the ripple effect that has on their businesses.
As the group assured the Senator at that meeting, the member businesses of the Main Street Alliance of Ohio welcome a new set of rules and will gladly make simple accommodations to keep women working when they need it most, and allow them to participate in their local economy.
"The proposed requirements for employers are VERY minimal. I have many women working for me who become pregnant and subsequently deliver. They have proven to be hard working and responsible about maternity leave. Providing a place to breastfeed or "pump" is not a problem for us. We encourage time and bonding with their child. Being a woman-owned company I know firsthand how difficult it was for me," says Molly Dullea, owner of The General Denver Hotel.
" As a business owner and a father and grandfather. The goal of Senate Bill 301 is not to create a burden for businesses. The purpose is to reinforce what should already be happening, that businesses that can make reasonable accommodations are doing so, and that women are not forced to choose between their job and a healthy pregnancy,” says Mike Held, owner of The Old Trail Printing Company.
"The long-term repercussions of discriminating against pregnant women have more and more impact on the State budget than the temporary, reasonable accommodations we are asking employers to provide during pregnancy,” says LeAnne Absolom, owner of Peace Love Bling.
While Minnesota enjoys a budget surplus, Main Street businesses weigh in on how to put the added revenue to use, favoring local infrastructure investments over tax cuts.
During Small Business Week and throughout the year, small business owners can speak for themselves on the issues facing Minnesota. When big business groups and corporate lobbyists push a tax-cutting and service-gutting agenda, they're not speaking for the small businesses on Main Street.
Here in Minnesota, we know the results of that agenda all too well. We've had to dig ourselves out from years of budget deficits that began with a tax rebate similar to what's being proposed i the legislature now.
Just as small businesses have to invest their surpluses wisely, so should the state invest its surplus in things that will benefit as many people as possible instead of just a fortunate few.
Our businesses thrive when our communities thrive, and we could do much more to benefit the hard-working people of Minnesota if we appropriately allocated the budget surplus by bolstering our public education and infrastructure, and increasing support to those struggling to make ends meet.
We’ve worked hard to grow our businesses and create jobs for our community members. As a result, less than ten years after one of the worst economic downturns on record Minnesota enjoys a budget surplus. And CNBC rates Minnesota as the best place for business in the country. The small businesses that line our city’s streets and employ over half of the state’s workers built this budget surplus and deserve a say in how the revenue is put to use.
We have already learned how tax cuts for big business, and the wealthy few will halt our progress and undo the economic strides Minnesotans have made these last few years. In honor of Small Business Week and the contributions that local, independent businesses make to our communities year round, we urge lawmakers to listen to the voices of Main Street.
"The small benefit I would get from a cut to my statewide property tax is not enough to impact my business model. By combining my resources with others in the form of business property taxes, our state can ensure a more stable and resilient work force. As a business owner and a citizen, it's important to me that the state uses our collective dollars to invest in an infrastructure that supports workers at my restaurant and in my community." Holly Hatch- Surisook, Owner, Sen Yai Sen Lek, Minneapolis, MN.
“As a small business owner, a mother, and a concerned citizen, I believe any budget surplus should be reinvested in our infrastructure, transportation, clean energy and education. Having a highly educated workforce should be a top priority in our state. Minnesota can be made an even greater state to live in by educating our population without saddling our young adults with crippling student loan debt as they exit college.
Additionally, tax cuts should be created to assist small businesses rather than expecting any benefit from the elusive "trickle-down" effect from corporate tax breaks. Helping small businesses will stimulate local economy and make our communities more vibrant." Terri Emmerich, owner, Spice of Life Tea Shoppe, St Cloud, MN
“These proposed corporate and other tax cuts will not benefit me or my business at all. As a matter of fact these tax cuts will likely result in my personal property taxes going up because of the shortfalls in infrastructure and education investment revenues. We’ve already seen what tax cuts like these cause…budget deficit after budget deficit, and rising property taxes. We did that for ten years. Why would we go back to doing that?” Todd Mikkelson, owner, Sprayrack by the RM Group, Orono, MN
Steve Garfield at his shop, Noll Hardware, in St. Paul
Small businesses in St. Paul applauded the City Wednesday for their work to appoint a balanced task force to help determine the earned sick day ordinance in St Paul. They called for a simple, common sense approach that is easy to understand, implement and has strong enforcement.
The businesses stated that there should be cohesive policy between Minneapolis and St. Paul that sets a baseline standard and protects workers.
“In fact, this should be a state law, so that all Minnesota workers have the same protections,” said Dan Ogiba, owner of five Toppers Pizzas locations in Minneapolis and St Paul.
Businesses also called for a flexible policy so that companies who currently provided benefits are determined in compliance with the law, as long as they give the same amount of time required by the law for sick day purposes.
“Our full-time staff have PTO, but we plan to expand that to ensure that all of our employees- both full and part time- can take off a day when they are ill,” says Michelle Nordhougen, Human Resource Director, Brasa Rotisserie & Restaurant Alma, St Paul and Minneapolis. “This is about the respect and dignity that all deserve, to thrive in both their professional and personal environments.”
Others highlighted how both businesses and their employees stand to gain from an Earned Sick and Safe Time policy.
“There are benefits to an ordinance like this for everyone, from owners to employees to our customers,” said Steve Garfield, owner of Noll Hardware in St Paul. “When workers can stay home when they are sick, you can keep the rest of your staff, as well as customers, healthy and happy.”
The Main Street Alliance recently released a report, The Bottom Line on Earned Sick Time: A Cost / Benefit Analysis of Earned Sick Days on the Economy which reviews implementation studies in five of the twenty-six jurisdictions that have passed similar legislation.
Samson Zeleke, the owner of Samson Custom Upholstery in St Paul, said it simply was the right thing to do. “As a parent, I know how hard it is when your kid is sick, having to choose between working and taking care of your child.” Samson, who has one employee and, is supportive of a city-wide ordinance that includes all business sizes and industries.
The Earned Sick and Safe Time task force is scheduled to met six times between March 8th and May 17th, and will make recommendations to the Saint Paul Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity (HREEO) Commission, who will, in turn, make recommendations to the City Council and Mayor.
We Strongly Condemn Racist and Hateful Legislation Against Refugees; Call for Leadership by Governors
The Main Street Alliance strongly condemns the passage of H.R. 4038, the so-called “American Security Against Foreign Enemies Act.” This bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives on Thursday, November 19, prevents Syrian refugees from entering the United States without meeting additional stringent screening requirements.Read more
EVENT: MONDAY NOV. 23rd 8:30am
CONGRESSMAN KEITH ELLISON AND CITY LEADERS DISCUSS PAID SICK DAYS WITH SMALL BUSINESSES
Tour businesses to talk about a city-wide earned sick and safe ordinanceRead more
Working Families Champions of Change event highlights importance of paid sick days and paid family leave policies
Washington, D.C. – The White House today honors Randy George, as part of its Working Families Champions of Change event. George was recognized for his work to improve the lives of working families in Vermont.
“Our 42 employees are at the core of everything we do – the heart of Red Hen.” George said, “That is why my wife Liza and I insist on providing paid sick days, an equal and livable wage, health coverage, and other benefits that help everyone balance the work they love with the life they lead. Through these workplace policies, we know we’re making our employees more secure, our bakery more productive, and our business more profitable.”
“Through our work in past years to establish a standard of earned paid leave in Vermont, several business owners have stepped forward and stood out as models of great employers and none so much Randy and Liza,” said Lindsay DesLauriers, VT State Director of Main Street Alliance. “Every time I buy a Red Hen baguette, I know that it’s not just about a great product or even about supporting a local business – I know that I’m investing in the kind of Vermont I want to live and work in.”
“Randy George is a true leader in the fight for paid sick days and paid family policies and has taken great strides to move these policies forward in Vermont,” said Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values @ Work. “We’re proud of Randy for this well-deserved honor, paving the way for national standards, until no one has to choose between providing and caring for their families.”
In Vermont, H. 187, the Healthy Workplaces Bill, is currently being debated in the General, Housing and Military Affairs. The bill is expected to be voted out of committee this week, and come to the floor next week. The bill establishes a minimum standard of access of three earned sick days for the first two years after implementation, and then increases to five.
These wins come on the heels of President Obama’s call in the State of the Union address for the U.S. to catch up with the 21st century and other world leaders on paid leave. These issues are also being addressed by presidential hopefuls as the 2016 campaigns get underway.
Tune in live TODAY at 12:15!
Family Values @ Work is a network of coalitions in 21 states, including Main Street Alliance of Vermont, working to pass policies that value families at work such as paid sick days and affordable family leave.
The Main Street Alliance of Vermont is an organization committed to elevating the voices of small business owners to advance public policies that are good for small businesses, our employees, and the communities we serve.
Small business owners: We’re proud to be American businesses and proud to pay our fair share of taxes
**Small Business Owners Available for Comment**Washington, D.C. –– With Tax Season in full swing, business owners and working families across the country are standing together, proud to live, work, and support the United States and their local communities. Small business owners across the country know that their tax dollars go to support the communities that help to make their businesses thrive. Investments in our schools, public infrastructure, safety, and much more depend on everyone paying their fair share of taxes.
Despite relying on American customers and taxpayers for their profitability, many large businesses have recently decided to undertake a so-called “corporate tax inversion,” made possible by a loophole in the tax code that allows American companies to reincorporate in a foreign country when just 20% of its stock is owned outside of the United States.
In response, today over 500 business owners, The Main Street Alliance (MSA), and the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC) have pledged to remain in the US, and not abandon their country.
“As a small business owner, I’m grateful for my country and community, they’ve helped my business thrive for over 32 years,” said Jim Houser, owner of Hawthorne Auto Clinic in Portland, Oregon. “I’m proud to pay my fair share of taxes to help keep my community healthy and strong. My tax dollars help pay for roads and bridges, schools and teachers, and all other public services that my business, and my customers, depend on. Big corporations should do the same and pay their fair share for all the services that helped them build their abundant profits.”
Business owners across the country—and political spectrum—overwhelmingly support closing corporate tax loopholes, like ones that allow for inversions, rather than making more cuts. Small business owners are calling for their Legislatures—and Congress—to close tax loopholes that allow businesses to extract wealth from our communities.
"For us, being a community business means paying our fair share of taxes" , Said Fausto Rodriguez, manager of Woodside Medical Clinic in Jackson Heights, Queens, "Tax inversions are simply an unfair way for larger corporations to take from the communities where they are without giving back. After everything our community here has done for us after 26 years here, it would be inconceivable to betray them by claiming a corporate office overseas."
###The Main Street Alliance is a national network of state-based small business coalitions. MSA and its state affiliates create opportunities for small business owners to speak for themselves on issues that impact their businesses and local economies. www.mainstreetalliance.org
The American Sustainable Business Council and its member organizations represent more than 165,000 businesses nationwide, and more than 300,000 entrepreneurs, executives, managers, and investors. ASBC informs and engages policy makers and the public about the need and opportunities for building a vibrant and sustainable economy. www.asbcouncil.org
The auditorium was packed with over 1500 residents of Volusia and neighboring counties to discuss three key issues the group plans to work on in 2015. County and City level law enforcement were in attendance to hear a plan to increase use of civil citations in response to non-violent crimes to spare first time offenders the lifelong burden of a criminal conviction, a plea was made to Volusia County officials to secure funding for a homeless shelter, and Daytona Beach City Commissioners were urged to vote in favor of ‘Ban the box’ legislation.
Alliance leader Paul Heroux was asked to give testimony before members of the City Commission and guests in attendance to share his position on ‘ban the box’ as a small business owner who was previously incarcerated. Paul gave a passionate speech, telling the audience that he started his own business because he was the only one who wouldn’t judge him based on how he answered the question on his applications.
Paul explained, “Checking that box takes away your identity. You are unable to explain who you are, and what you can bring to the company before you are deemed unfit for the position. Everyone has an idea in their head of who a felon is or what they look like, and it probably doesn’t look like me. Ban the box is a chance for my face to replace the movie gangster the hiring manager pictured when they saw I checked yes.”
All 4 of the Commissioners in attendance agreed to meet with members of the ‘ban the box’ coalition in the next 30 days to discuss the legislation before it is brought to a vote next month. Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry took is a step further and said, “I whole heartedly believe that banning the box is good for our city and I will vote yes on the measure.”
Main Street leaders will remain engaged in the debate throughout the process and will continue to set an example for private employers who have not yet adopted fair hiring practices. In addition to the work being done in Daytona Beach legislation is being prepared for the Orlando City Commission, and Main Street Florida is among the first organizations to join the fight for fair hiring in Orlando.
Main Street Alliance of Florida members travelled to Daytona Beach Wednesday night to join in a presentation to the Daytona City Commission on ‘ban the box’ legislation. The legislation would remove the question, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony,” from job applications allowing applicants to be considered based on their experience and qualifications. The legislation was presented by our allies at the Vincentian Re-Entry Organizing Project and small business owners from across Florida voiced their support for the measure. Our members and leaders seek the most talented and hardest working candidates to fill their positions, regardless of criminal background. They are committed to giving all applicants a fair shot at employment and allowing them to interview for open positions without discrimination or pre-judgment. ‘Ban the box’ would not eliminate background checks, but it would allow an applicant to address their previous convictions in person during the interview process.
Leader Paul Heroux told the commission, “I’ve heard people say that ‘ban the box’ is an attempt by people like me to hide our criminal records. I am not interested in hiding my record, I just want the chance to have that conversation.” Heroux is a veteran of the Florida prison system and started his own construction business after he was unable to find employment upon his release.
Members who were unable to attend the meeting provided comments to be read to the commission including Ricardo McQueen who said, “When a prisoner is released into a society that won’t allow them a fair chance at employment it is like they were never set free. They paid their debt to society, they served their time, now they deserve a chance to provide for their families and better their lives. Denying employment opportunities is a life-long sentence that the judge or jury never ordered.” Ricardo owns Food Health and Environmental Safety, and volunteers his time to help new entrepreneurs get started in business. Many of the aspiring business owners Ricardo works with have previous felony convictions or are from neighborhoods such as Pine Hills, and Parramore that are disproportionately affected by discriminatory hiring practices. Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry told the overflowing room in the Daytona City Hall that ‘ban the box’ was legislation that he personally supported, and he called on the Commissioners to come to an agreement on this issue soon. Alliance members will continue to speak out in favor of the legislation in Daytona Beach and plan to turn their efforts towards fair hiring legislation in Orlando in the coming months.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Main Street Alliance of Vermont Disappointed at the Slow Down of Universal Healthcare.
Main Street Alliance of Vermont was disappointed to hear that the Governor will not recommend a financing plan for Green Mountain Care to the legislature this year. We are disappointed about the delay and disappointed that the opportunity for stakeholder involvement wasn’t more ubiquitous sooner. We continue to want to move forward to find a plan for universal healthcare that could work and regret that the opportunity to participate in finding a timely solution to the financing challenge as it was presented on Wednesday has been withheld.
We agree and understand that the economy is struggling and we believe that universal healthcare decoupled from employment is an essential ingredient to the success of Vermont’s economy and to supporting small businesses and their employees. We know that in the long run, a truly universal healthcare system, done right, will save Vermont money.
Our current healthcare system continues to be unsustainable and unaffordable for small businesses and for Vermont. Private insurance companies continue to earn large profits while Vermonters struggle to pay for healthcare. Many of Vermont’s small businesses are still unable to afford the high cost of providing health insurance to their employees, and many therefore don’t have access the care they need. The problems we set out to solve remain.
We are closer than we’ve ever been before thanks to all the work that has been done in Vermont to date. The small business owners with whom we work want the opportunity to work with the legislature and the administration to help find solutions to the challenges that the Governor identified and to keep Vermont moving forward this year in every practical and possible way toward the goal of universal healthcare in our state.
The Main Street Alliance is committed to elevating the voices of small business owners to advance public policies that are good for small businesses, our employees, and the communities we serve.
Founding Board Members: Wayne Nelson, L.N. Consulting in Winooski, Melinda Moulton, CEO of Main Street Landing in Burlington, Trudy Trombley, The Boutique at Stowe Mercantile and Truly Trudy’s Cosmetics in Stowe, and Eliza Cain, Red Hen Bakery in Middlesex