Duluth’s Sick and Safe Ordinance Passes, President Elissa Hansen to Resign

Baihly Warfield
Updated: May 29, 2018 10:21 PM

Duluth's Earned Sick and Safe Time ordinance has passed.


Councilors approved the sometimes divisive ordinance 7-1, with Jay Fosle opposed and Barb Russ absent.

At Monday’s meeting, business leaders expressed a desire to work together going forward. Chamber of Commerce President David Ross and Greater Downtown Council President Kristi Stokes thanked councilors for listening and said the business community expects to be a unified force with the city going forward.

"Know that you have the Chamber's commitment to make this work in whatever form it takes and that you have a willing business community who will do its best to move our beloved community forward," Ross said.

Under the ordinance, employers with five or more employees must provide at least one ESST hour for every 50 worked. Independent contractors, seasonal employees and student interns will be exempt.

Fosle said he hopes that no businesses are negatively impacted once ESST is implemented.

"This is almost like a contract negotiation that the city is putting onto business to force mandated sick time off," Fosle said.

Other councilors said they understand an ESST policy will not solve poverty but said it may help.

"I firmly believe that all working people deserve the dignity of paid sick time, that it's an earned benefit, it is not a giveaway or a freebie," Councilor Em Westerlund said. "People work hard in our community in all sectors, and I don't believe that there should be a hierarchy of jobs that are worthy of paid sick time and jobs that are not."

The ordinance goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020.

Hansen to Resign

At the end of the meeting, President Elissa Hansen tearfully announced she will be stepping down July 17 to fully focus on a new position with Northspan. She will step down from the council presidency June 11.

"I wish you all well in continuing the hard work of governing and growing a stronger community," Hansen told her fellow councilors. "And I encourage the community to keep showing up and bringing your voices forward so we can keep creating a larger table with a strong civic conversation."

Hansen is an at-large councilor. It will be up to the rest of the council to fill her seat this summer.


Baihly Warfield

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