Gov. Shumlin Signs Healthy Workplaces Bill...Now What?

Main Street Alliance Releases Paid Sick Days Implementation Resources for Vermont Businesses

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(Left) Eliza Cain and Randy George, owners of Red Hen Baking Co. in Middlesex and longtime supporter of earned leave
(Right) Caleb Magoon, owner of PowerPlay Sports in Morrisville and Waterbury Sports

MONTPELIER, VT - With Governor Peter Shumlin’s signature on the Healthy Workplaces bill today, The Main Street Alliance of Vermont launched an informational webpage for businesses to use as a resource and to ensure they are in compliance with the new law. The page includes pertinent information for businesses, a series of frequently asked questions, links to research on paid leave laws in other states, and contact information for businesses to use should they have additional questions.

“We want this page to be a go-to for Vermont businesses as they consider their own leave policies, and we hope it will help bring businesses into compliance with the new law,” said Lindsay DesLauriers, Director of Main Street Alliance of Vermont. “We welcome additional questions from business owners and plan to update and add to our page as the new law rolls out.”

The page, which can be found at vermont.mainstreetalliance.org/psd, primarily contains information for employers. However, it will also link to information that will be useful for employees.

“Offering paid time off to our employees was one of the best business decisions we’ve ever made,” said Eliza Cain, owner of Red Hen Baking Co. and longtime supporter of the legislation. “I believe that businesses who have remaining concerns about this new law will begin to see its benefits.”

Over the past few years, Main Street Alliance has worked to engage businesses across the state in conversation around earned leave, and in the years of debate and compromise, business owners have come around in support of the bill. One such business owner, Caleb Magoon, owner of PowerPlay Sports in Morrisville and Waterbury Sports, spoke at the bill signing.

“Initially, I was not a supporter of mandating paid sick leave, but today, I truly believe it’s one of the best benefits you can give,” said Magoon. “Because businesses were invited to the table to engage on this issue, we ended up with a policy that is good for employees and addresses the needs and concerns of Vermont’s small business owners.”

“This morning, the building is filled with early childhood educators who are ecstatic about the paid sick days bill because they know that without paid sick days parents will be forced send their kids to childcare and school sick,” said Representative Helen Head, who chairs the House committee that worked on the bill and who was the original sponsor of the first paid sick days bill introduced in Vermont roughly a decade ago.

Vermont is the fifth state to pass an earned leave law.

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Main Street Alliance of Vermont Welcomes New Research and Communications Associate

BURLINGTON, VT – Main Street Alliance of Vermont (MSA-VT) is pleased to announce the addition of Kaycie Miltenberger to their staff.  Miltenberger will serve as Research and Communications Associate for the small business organization.

“Main Street Alliance is such an important resource in this state, and I am honored to have the opportunity to contribute to the work they do,” said Miltenberger. “It’s a thrilling time to be joining MSA-VT – right on the heels of their strong work on the earned sick leave issue. I look forward to helping to elevate the voices of small business owners on state policy issues.”

Prior to joining Main Street Alliance, Miltenberger worked as Chief Editorial Writer for the New York State Assembly Majority, where she helped manage communications for the legislature. Most recently, she worked as a Marketplace Assister with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

“We are delighted to welcome Kaycie to the team and to continue to grow our organization here in Vermont,” said Lindsay DesLauriers, State Director of Main Street Alliance of Vermont. “Kaycie’s background in communications working for the New York Assembly will be a tremendous asset to the work of our organization." 

Miltenberger joined the Main Street Alliance staff on Monday, Feb. 15 – just in time for the legislature’s final consideration of H.187, the Healthy Workplaces bill, in support of which the organization has organized a coalition of more than 250 Vermont businesses. The bill passed the House in a vote of 81-64 on Wednesday afternoon. 

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Main Street Alliance of Vermont is a statewide non profit organization that works with small business owners on public policy issues that are good for business, their employees, and the communities they serve. 


Vermont House Reviews, Approves Paid Sick Day Bill

MONTPELIER, VT – After the Vermont State Senate’s re-vote on the Healthy Workplaces bill (H.187), the bill landed back in the House, where it passed today with a 81-64 vote.

The legislation will require that all employees who work more than 18 hours per week are able to earn up to three days of paid time off in 2017 and 2018 and up to five days thereafter. 

“It was a long road to the Governor’s desk for this bill, but the work was well worth it. It has been truly gratifying to work with so many smart and dedicated business owners and legislators who have stayed committed to passing a strong and balanced bill,” said Lindsay DesLauriers, Director of Main Street Alliance of Vermont.

Five amendments were on the calendar, including an amendment by Alyson Eastman (I-Orwell) that would have excluded Vermont’s smallest employers from the requirements. Following committee votes finding all five amendments unfavorable, the sponsors of the amendments withdrew.

Reflecting on the amendments that were withdrawn in the House and the events in the Senate last week, Angela Earle-Gray, Human Resources Director at Chroma Technology in Bellows Falls, who said, “A small business exemption would have added unnecessary administrative confusion and sent the message to those working for smaller companies that they don’t deserve equal protection despite doing equal work. The House and Senate did the right thing ensuring that everyone is treated equally.”

“Offering paid sick leave to our employees has been a great investment in our employees that our business has benefitted from,” said Eliza Cain, co-owner of Red Hen Bakery and long time advocate for the earned leave bill. “It’s great to see Vermont making the same investment in all our people.”

The bill will now be delivered to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.

  

Link to Bill Summary here


Main Street Alliance awards businesses, legislators; and announces new board member

News Release — Main Street Alliance

Oct. 28, 2015

Burlington, VT – The Main Street Alliance of Vermont celebrates their first year in Vermont by honoring the owners of 3 Squares Café in Vergennes and Red Hen Bakery in Middlesex and announces Sue Bette, owner of Bluebird Barbecue, as a new member of their Vermont State Board.

At a celebration hosted by Melinda Moulton, CEO of Main Street Landing, Main Street Alliance of Vermont marked their first year of work in Vermont by giving out awards to two businesses and two legislators to recognize their work in moving the Earned Sick Days bill through the House in the last legislative session. They also announced the newest addition to their State Board, Sue Bette, owner of Bluebird Barbecue in Burlington. They were joined by former Governor Madeleine Kunin and Speaker of the House, Shap Smith – both outspoken advocates of the earned sick days bill.

Matt Birong, owner of 3 Squares Café and Randy George and Eliza Cain, co-owners of Red Hen Bakery accepted the MSA-VT Business of the Year awards. Chair of the MSA-VT Board and COO of White and Burke Real Estate Investment Advisors, Stephanie Hainley, said of Birong that the group singled him out for the award because he demonstrated “the spirit of coming to the table, engaging genuinely – even going outside your comfort zone – to find a good solution and then standing up and supporting it” which, she said, characterizes the approach of Main Street Alliance. Birong started out the 2015 legislative session not supporting the paid sick days bill and was moved to support the bill after working with the group to identify compromises for small businesses, which made it into the bill as it passed the House.

The group also gave awards to Representative Tom Stevens of Waterbury and bill sponsor, Representative Tristan Toleno of Brattleboro. Another MSA-VT Board Member, Caleb Magoon owner of Powerplay Sports in Morrisville and Waterbury Sports echoed the sentiments of Hainley in presenting the award to Toleno. He said of Toleno, “As a small business owner like us, he wanted to understand the details of how an earned leave bill would actually function before he could support it. But he understood the value of the principle: that all people need some time off to manage their lives and care for their families. And so it was in that spirit that he began to engage with the legislation and eventually took over as lead sponsor in 2015.” Magoon, who opposed earlier versions of the paid sick days bills in previous years was a vocal supporter of the compromises in the 2015 bill.

Sue Bette is the founder and owner of Bluebird Vermont, a hospitality company operating Bluebird Barbecue and Bluebird Parties! in Burlington, Vermont. A native of upstate New York, Bette received her B.A. in History from Saint Michael’s College and M.Ed. in Higher Education Administration from the University of Vermont. In 2007, Bette moved to Berkeley, California to study food and beverage and attained accreditation as a Natural Chef from Bauman College, achieved Level 1 Certification from the International Sommelier Guild, completed a one-year apprenticeship at Three Stone Hearth Community Kitchen, and founded a food blog called feelgoodeats. In 2009, Bette returned to Vermont to open Bluebird Tavern, which achieved national recognition by the James Beard Foundation, Food & Wine Magazine, and Bon Appetit Magazine. In 2010, Bette opened Bluebird Coffee Stop and in 2012 opened Bluebird Barbecue and Bluebird Parties!

Stephanie Hainley said, “We are so pleased that Sue will be joining us. Her experience in running successful restaurants will be an important perspective in a Vermont sector of business and workforce that is highly affected by MSA-VT’s platforms and policies.”
In joining the VT State Board of Main Street Alliance, Bette joins Eliza Cain, co-owner of Red Hen Baking Company in Middlesex; Melinda Moulton, CEO of Main Street Landing in Burlington; Stephanie Hainley, COO of White and Burke Real Estate Investment Advisors; Jen Kimmich of the Alchemist in Waterbury; Eric Warnstedt of Hen of the Wood in Burlington and Waterbury and Doc Ponds in Stowe; Wayne Nelson, partner at L.N. Consulting in Winooski; and Caleb Magoon, owner of Power Play Sports in Morrisville and Waterbury Sports.





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