Workers Call on Best Buy to Use Leadership to Support Legislation Improving Job Quality, Health Standards for Minnesota’s Working Families

Contact: Greta Bergstrom, Greta@TakeActionMinnesota.org, 651.336.6722

Richfield, MN (April 14, 2015) — Over the lunch hour Tuesday, janitors who work for contracted companies cleaning Best Buy headquarters and retail stores, along with faith leaders, paid a visit to Best Buy’s corporate headquarters calling on the retailer to use its lobbying clout at the State Capitol to pass policies which would improve the wages, health and working conditions for Minnesota workers.  The message to the corporate retailer: use your considerable influence on the Minnesota Retailers Association board to pass earned sick and safe time, paid family leave legislation and to stop standing as a roadblock to future minimum wage increases and the ability of local governments from increasing local wages above the state minimum.

Veronica Mendez Moore, co-Executive Director of the Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha (CTUL) emceed the event, citing Minnesota Department of Health reports connecting poverty and lack of access to earned sick time with the overall health of communities around the state.  “We know Best Buy holds a lot of influence over how the Minnesota Retailers Association operates and pulls the strings when it comes to legislative policy. We’re calling on Best Buy to use their leadership to help improve the job quality and health of Minnesota workers rather than standing in opposition to them.”

Best Buy is a key leader of the Minnesota Retailers Association, which has been actively lobbying state legislators to block policies like earned sick time, paid family leave, and inflation indexing for future minimum wage increases – stated among their top 2015 legislative policies. The Minnesota Retailers Association is simultaneously working this session to block local governments from enacting their own laws which could have the ability of strengthening wages and job quality above state minimum.

“If I get sick, I have to go to work sick.  If my child gets sick, I go to work without sleeping all night. I can’t miss a day of work because if I do I can’t pay the bills, or I might even get fired. I am fighting for paid sick days because I deserve to be able to take a day off, attend to my children’s and my own health, and go back to work with renewed strength,” Maricela Flores, CTUL member, employee of Carlson Building Maintenance who cleans a Target store.

Through its leadership in the Minnesota Retailers Association, Best Buy is:

  • Opposing Earned Sick and Safety Time and Paid Family Leave, even though they are needed benefits for workers and the popular policy proposals with the public. According to a report by the Minnesota Department of Health, infant mortality rates are higher among families with no paid family leave. No earned sick days leads to an increase in workplace accidents by 28%.
  • Advocating for the elimination of the provision in Minnesota’s new minimum wage increase that our state’ minimum wage will increase with the cost of living. Minnesota working families need and deserve better wages, the ability to care for their health, and better benefits on the job.
  • Supporting the Local Interference bill, H.F. 1241, which would keep workers locked in poverty by preventing local governments from enacting earned sick day, wage, family leave and wage theft policies that improve up state-mandated minimums.

For years, Best Buy has played a key leadership role in the Minnesota Retailers’ Association. Best Buy’s senior director of government affairs, Mike Hiltner, most recently served as Board Chair, succeeded by Pawn America’s Chief Legislative Officer, Chuck Armstrong, in January 2015.

Pastor Matt Bersagel from Crown of Glory church in Chaska believes that policies that benefit workers ultimately benefit Minnesota. “The Minnesota Department of Health has recently published two reports demonstrating a direct correlation between poverty wages, access to paid sick days, and community health. Best Buy has the power to advance policies improving the working conditions and wages of workers, and in extension community health. What’s good policy for our workers ultimately is good policy for the health of our communities and Minnesota’s economy.”

Following the press conference, a delegation of workers, faith leaders and allies delivered materials to Best Buy executives. CTUL delegation members delivered 150 petitions signed by retail cleaning workers in support of paid sick days, all including a personal story of how earning a low wage and not having paid sick days impacts their personal health and the health of their families. ISAIAH members delivered a letter addressed to Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly, requesting a meeting to discuss how Best Buy can use its leadership in the Minnesota Retailers Association to improve policies for workers, rather than opposing them.

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