Brooklyn Center Barbershop Owner Testifies About Need for Paid Family Medical Leave
Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman heard from a Brooklyn Center barbershop owner and other small businesses about the challenges they’re facing and what can be done to address them.
Rico Allen, owner of Universal Cutz and Stylez, spoke during a virtual forum Thursday hosted by Main Street Alliance, an organization founded by small business owners.
“In this business, there is no such thing as paid leave, day care or anything like that, so that’s something I’m very passionate to see change,” said Allen.
Allen says barberships are an “important source of community,” but says he’s struggled while raising his five kids during the pandemic.
“Rico should be able to take a day off to take care of his kids when they get sick and get paid for that,” said Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, during Thursday’s roundtable. “There should be a safety net just like there is for unemployment. You shouldn’t have to lose your job to have access to a social safety net.”
The state has a $7.75 billion surplus, but budget officials will provide an updated outlook on Monday.
Small businesses say they continue to deal with a variety of challenges stemming from the pandemic, including supply-chain issues, as well as a lack of affordable child care. Child care centers themselves say they’re struggling to keep up with increasing costs, such as rising food prices.
“The price of a gallon of milk has increased substantially in the last few months. What am I going to do? I can’t not feed the children,” said Nicole Flick, owner of ABC123 child care center in Dilworth, Minn.
Other small businesses say Amazon’s unchecked dominance had a “devastating impact” on their retail store, blaming the e-commerce giant for uprooting distribution and shipping contracts. Sarah Piepenburg, co-owner of Vinaigrette in Minneapolis, says she had to change carriers when Amazon signed a contract with her longstanding logistics partner.
“We were forced to drive to Milwaukee and load up our family van with merchandise to keep our doors open,” said Piepenburg.
Hortman says the House will look at a variety of relief options for small businesses including tax rebates and possibly creating a paid family medical leave system similar to the state’s unemployment insurance program.