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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Ryan Winkler (DFL)

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Minnesota House advances new pandemic assistance to help laid-off hospitality and service sector workers

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives advanced legislation authored by Rep. Andrew Carlson (DFL-Bloomington) to help laid-off hospitality and service sector workers return to their jobs. The bill passed by a vote of 70-61.

“Displaced hospitality workers deserve our full support now more than ever. Today’s vote further demonstrates our promise to provide a safety net for workers, majority of which are Black and Latinx, who are suffering the disproportionate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.” said Rep. Carlson. “I have full confidence and trust that Minnesota will emerge stronger than before, and build back our community with a flourishing economy.” 

Rep. Carlson’s bill applies to Minnesotans employed by hotels, airports, and event centers; the facilities attached to them, including restaurants, bars, and retail; as well as related services, including maintenance, security, ticketing, ground-handling, and food and beverage services. It also applies to an enterprise providing maintenance and security services to office, retail, or commercial buildings, like a staffing agency.

“The burden of protecting Minnesotans from the spread of COVID-19 has fallen on some more than others, and our hospitality and service sector workers are among the hardest hit,” said Speaker Melissa Hortman. “Many of these workers loved their jobs, and they want to return to them. They deserve the chance to regain the jobs they lost through no fault of their own.”

This bill is part of House Democrats’ broader solutions to respond to the needs of workers, families, and small businesses hit hardest by the pandemic. 

“The pandemic has been difficult for everyone, but it hasn’t impacted everyone equally, and that especially applies to Minnesota’s hospitality and service sector workers,” said Majority Leader Ryan Winkler. “This is a vital sector of our economy and people of color, especially women of color, put in the work and physical labor that allows these businesses to succeed. House Democrats are putting accountability in place for employers that refuse to give workers an opportunity to regain the same jobs they had before the pandemic.”

To be eligible for rehire and retention benefits, Minnesotans need to have worked for their employer for at least six months in the year prior to January 31, 2020, and become unemployed after January 31, 2020, due to the pandemic. Employers would be required to provide eligible workers with information about available job positions for which they qualify, and to rehire employees based on a preference system of qualifications and seniority.

More information and a recap of the debate will be available on the nonpartisan office of House Public Information Services’ YouTube channel.