Minnesota AFL-CIO legislative agenda focuses on 'middle class dignity and fairness'

As the 2013 Legislative session entered its second month, the Minnesota AFL-CIO announced its "Agenda for Middle Class Dignity & Fairness" as a way for state lawmakers to help level the playing field for middle class families.
The agenda includes significantly increasing the state's minimum wage, adding consequences for employers who lock workers out, and new privacy protections.

"In November, Minnesotans elected new majorities to the Minnesota House & Senate who care about and will be strong advocates for middle class families," said Minnesota AFL-CIO President Shar Knutson. "Today, we're presenting a few ways that lawmakers can demonstrate that commitment while protecting and growing the middle class."

The Agenda for Middle Class Dignity & Fairness includes:

Minimum Wage Act

  • Raises the minimum wage to $10.55;
  • Indexes the minimum wage to inflation each year thereafter;
  • Preserves Minnesota's prohibition on wage penalties for tipped employees.
  • Employer Lockout Accountability Act
  • Provides unemployment benefits to workers for the lockout's duration;
  • Adds a penalty to an employer's unemployment tax bill if they lockout employees.

Worker Freedom Act

  • Protects privacy by giving employees the freedom to walk away from employer speeches aimed at changing their vote, other political actions, or religious beliefs and practices;
  • Bars employers from firing or disciplining workers who choose not to attend mandatory indoctrination meetings;
  • Protects whistleblowers who report such coerced meetings.

Credit Privacy in Employment Act

  • Bans credit checks for employment decisions related to hiring, termination, promotion, demotion, discipline, compensation or other terms and condition of employment;
  • Bars employers from requesting the job applicant's or employee's credit history for these purposes;
  • Bars employers from refusing to hire an applicant who refuses to authorize the credit report, where the report is not required by state or federal law;
  • Allows the employer to request credit information if it is required by state or federal law for employment purposes with written authorization from the employee or applicant.

"In 2011 and 2012, bill after bill was introduced to curtail the rights of working Minnesotans," added Knutson. "This new Legislature has an opportunity to chart a new course and produce positive change for middle class families."

The Minnesota AFL-CIO is a labor federation made up of more than 1,000 affiliate unions, representing more than 300,000 working people throughout the state.

This article reprinted from Workday Minnesota