The Minneapolis City Council on Friday approved appointments for a 16-member Workplace Advisory Committee, and the list has a strong union and progressive advocacy flavor.
The group, whose job is to review policy and advise the city on workplace questions, will include representatives from three businesses — Target, Eureka Recycling and northeast Minneapolis restaurant Sen Yai Sen Lek.
The small business, large business, business association and organized labor representation on the committee is set at two each, but the group also must include five employees, and those slots were taken by Take Action Minnesota, Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, 15 Now, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos En Lucha, and UNITE Local 17.
People from two business associations — the Metro Independent Business Alliance and the Main Street Alliance — were appointed to the group.
Council Vice President Elizabeth Glidden said it was difficult to get other business associations to apply for the committee, in part because business doesn't speak with one voice on workplace issues, and partly because a few business groups are suing the city of Minneapolis over its sick-leave ordinance. Those involved in the lawsuit include the National Federation of Independent Business, the TwinWest Chamber of Commerce and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.
The Lake Street Council and Southwest Business Association, Glidden said, both turned down the chance to put someone on the committee.
"I don't think what happens here will be the end-all, be-all on whether businesses feel engaged," Glidden said. "It would be unfair to talk about this in isolation."
She added that the city will have listening sessions on the minimum wage over the next two months with businesses, and the council in its 2017 budget created a small business office and new small business retention position. Those city staffers will solicit input from businesses on city policies and regulations.
Jonathan Weinhagen, president of the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the committee doesn't seem balanced and his group wasn't asked to participate, but he agreed with Glidden that businesses will have other ways to communicate with the city about workplace issues, including a potential ordinance raising the city's minimum wage.
"We're going to do some focused listening sessions with city staff to help provide some input, so there are certainly other avenues for the business community's voice to be heard," Weinhagen said.