Below is the full text of the letter to the Frontline Workers Pay Working Group:
August 30, 2021
Frontline Worker Pay Working Group Members:
We have been watching the Frontline Worker Pay Working Group with deep interest, and we appreciate the discovery and thoughtfulness that has been evident during your meetings and testimony.
As consumers each of you have seen first-hand how retailers have stepped up early and throughout the pandemic, working hard on extra cleaning and new ways of retailing to provide a safe shopping experience and work environment. We are proud of how the industry answered the State’s call to donate masks and other PPE when such supplies were desperately needed. In addition, you saw retailers quickly shift operations to offer or enhance curbside pickup, home delivery, online options, and safe in-store shopping based on state, federal and local public health guidance.
From the front of the store serving customers directly, to the vital work in distribution and shipping centers, retail workers have answered the call each day to ensure the needs of families, communities, and all Minnesotans have been met. We truly have seen the customer-serving spirit and work ethic of Minnesota’s retail workers shine!
As you get closer to consensus on program qualifications, we offer these perspectives based on what we have heard from retailers and their workers across the state.
- Please consider Minnesota’s retail pharmacy workers as healthcare workers. Workers in retail pharmacies have reported for work each day of the pandemic to ensure Minnesotans have access to over-the-counter medications, prescriptions, personal hygiene supplies, and accessible COVID vaccines and testing. Retail pharmacies and their workers have played a recognizable role in the health of all Minnesotans and have proved to be a vital part of the health response to the pandemic, including being frontline partners with the State on vaccination. We ask that you not exclude these workers from your healthcare qualifications.
- Please consider Minnesota’s convenience store workers as grocery workers. Thousands of convenience store workers clock in every day to ensure there is access to essential products such as gasoline and electric charging as well as grocery items. In some communities and for some Minnesotans convenience stores serve as the most accessible store for fresh, packaged and prepared foods. We ask that you not forget these convenience store workers as you consider grocery worker qualifications.
- As you continue to discuss program funding, including the potential to leverage other available funding beyond the $250 million, please consider the work of Minnesota’s frontline retail workers who show up every day to meet the needs of our citizens. One estimate brought before the workgroup suggested there are approximately 153,000 workers who make sure we have access to household and personal essentials, clothing and shoes, home office and education technology, home maintenance goods, as well as other physical and mental health/safety items needed across the state. As you continue to learn more about workers who have important roles throughout the pandemic, please consider frontline retail workers who have been serving Minnesotans via in-person shopping, curbside delivery, online servicing, and back-end processing and logistics.
We commend the workgroup for its process and willingness to dig deep and understand Minnesotans and how they were and are impacted by the pandemic. We know the decisions ahead of you are difficult but are also confident your spirit of cooperation will result in a meaningful program for frontline workers.
Thank you for your consideration of retail pharmacy, convenience, and frontline retail workers as you make your decisions.
Bruce Nustad, president
After devastating and heartbreaking loss of life yesterday, officials welcome lawful peaceful protest while preparing for any unlawful activities
Sunday's loss of life in Brooklyn Center can only be described as devastating and heartbreaking. MnRA prays for the family of Daunte Wright and the community as it deals with this tragic officer-involved death. We support the right of Minnesotans to peacefully protest for change.
Over the course of the day we fielded calls from retailers in disbelief of what happened on Sunday afternoon. While we don't have all the answers, we join Minnesotans in recognizing change is needed.
Out of caution and concern for employees and customers, MnRA provides the following updates for retailers concerned about the potential for unlawful activities not connected to peaceful protests:
- CURFEWS 7:00 PM TO 6:00 AM: Some local governments are instituting curfews for tonight from 7:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., including Minneapolis and St. Paul. In addition, the Governor instituted the same curfew for all of Ramsey, Dakota, Hennepin and Anoka counties. Please check with your local government for times and updates on how curfews impact employee travel to and from work. Curfews are likely to be enforced as prevention. Also, we recommend you adjust your closing time to allow your employees time to get home before 7:00 p.m. in impacted areas.
- LAW ENFORCEMENT PRESENCE: According to the plans discussed this afternoon by the Governor and key officials, this evening metro-area law enforcement is positioned to enforce curfews as a means to identify and deal with potential vandals and looters. Please take a moment to remind your employees of the importance of obeying the curfews as a tool to separate those peacefully protesting and living their lives from those committing unlawful acts.
- POP UP LOOTING: According to law enforcement officials, they are preparing to respond to pop up looting and property damage around the metro, not just in Minneapolis and St. Paul. As a precaution, we recommend all metro stores consider appropriate actions to safeguard your employees, customers and inventory. We are seeing some stores announcing early closures and enhanced communications with local law enforcement
Please join us in thought for the Wright family and all of Minnesota.
Make sure your ballot is counted!
MnRA has been working in parternership with the Minnesota Secretary of State to communucate voting options in this unsual pandemic election. Below is an edited version of what the Secretary of State's Office communicated to us relative to recomneded changes for those submitting an absentee ballot. Please share with your neighbors, customers annd employees! Let's make sure every vote counts.
Yesterday's U.S. 8th Circuit Appeals Court reversed the consent decree of the Ramsey County Court which established the extension (postmarked by 11/3; received by 11/10) for returning an absentee ballot (AB) by mail. It is incredibly important that everyone hear of this change, and their options if they have mailed back their AB or are planning to. The voter makes the decision, but if they are concerned about their vote arriving in time to be counted, please share the following:
- · ALL ballots must be returned to the county elections office by Tuesday, November 3.
- · Deadline to drop it off in person is 3 p.m.; deadline for mail or delivery service is 8 p.m.
- · Ballots arriving after November 3-regardless of the postmark- will not be counted.
- · Make a plan:
- ABs already accepted by the counties are fine, and no action need be taken.
- If a voter has mailed back their AB but they have not confirmed its receipt and acceptance:
- Confirm the status of the ballot
- If the ballot has been accepted, no further action is needed
- If the ballot has not been accepted, vote in person:
NOTE: The system will not allow a voter to vote twice. When voting early in person, the site will confirm the voter is eligible to vote early (has not turned in a ballot already), and at the polling place, the roster will reflect if the voter has had an AB accepted already. For ABs received on Election Day, the county will contact the polling place to confirm that the voter has not voted in person, accept the AB, and instruct the Roster Judge to mark an AB next to the voter’s name (or update the E-Poll Book).
3. If a voter has their AB which was mailed to them or had been previously picked up:
- ADVISE THEY DO NOT MAIL THE AB BACK. While it is the voter’s right to return the AB by mail, there is no way to guarantee that the mailed AB will arrive by 11/3.
- Assuming that the voter is eligible to use the location, any AB may be returned at a drop box, early voting location, or county Elections Office. (Again, make sure the voter is eligible to use that location. County Elections Offices are open for drop-offs for all residents of the county.) https://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/other-ways-to-vote/cities-and-towns-with-in-person-absentee-voting/ (This list was updated with additional sites and drop-off locations on Tuesday, 10/27.)
- Minnesota law allows a person to drop off up to three ballots for others during an election (not per trip or per day) in person, but not using a drop box (unless the drop box has someone there to track users). The person dropping off ballots will need to show identification and identify whose ballots they are turning in.