Sen. Jen McEwen Ushers Labor Legislation to Senate Passage

ST. PAUL, Minn. — In the early hours of Tuesday, May 7, Senate Labor Committee Chair Senator Jen McEwen (DFL-Duluth) successfully ushered to Senate passage a robust package of labor provisions that centers workers, strengthens Minnesota’s economy and builds upon the transformational labor legislation passed in 2023. The labor provisions passed in a transportation, housing and labor omnibus bill (HF 5242) in a bipartisan vote of 36-31.

“Workers are the foundation of our economy, and their dignity and strength are the guiding light of this legislation,” said Senator McEwen. “We are making workplaces safer so fewer people suffer from illness or injury as a result of their job duties; we are effectively restoring collective bargaining rights to workers at the University of Minnesota and expanding these rights to student workers; and we are working to ensure workers are paid what they’re due, in every industry. This legislation affirms what we’ve always known: When we codify respect for workers into law, everyone benefits — employees, businesses, and our communities alike.”

Key provisions include:

  • Stronger protections for workers under Earned Sick and Safe Time;
  • Better bargaining units at the University of Minnesota system, to allow faculty and staff to exercise their labor rights; and an improved definition of “public employee,” to extend labor rights to all student workers at the University of Minnesota, regardless of their family’s income level;
  • Improved thresholds for lead exposure in the workplace, based on new research on blood lead levels;
  • Funding for the Rise Up Center, a transformational hub for workforce training and community building;
  • Safety training requirements for broadband workers;
  • Protections and required fair compensation for youth featured in online content; and
  • Wage theft prevention and prevailing wage requirements for publicly funded housing projects.

HF 5242 also passed in the Minnesota House on May 1, 69-60. It will now move to conference committee.

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Jen McEwen represents Senate District 8 which covers the community of Duluth.

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