'Clopen' bill combats back-to-back work shifts

Many Minnesotans have had jobs where they had to close up shop then open it right back up in the morning. Some lawmakers are trying to cut back on this kind of scheduling. "Clopen," as it's dubbed, can be a fun word to say, but not to do. Now, a new bill is aimed at giving employees more power to decline these shifts.

"I'd go straight from my clopening to school and with no rest in between," Andy Iverson said. He used to close and open up twice a week at his produce job at the Linden Hills Co-Op. He'd close, sleep three to five hours, open, go to graduate school, and repeat.

"That time just feels like it's a waste because my work performance was bad and my school performance was bad," he said.

Thankfully, years ago, Iverson's manager stopped scheduling clopenings on his own. Obviously, not every business has opted to take that route. The new bill would stop them for good by allowing employees to decline a shift that starts within eleven hours of the previous one.

House Minority Leader Paul Thissen is pushing for provision that's part of the larger Working Parents Act.

"The workplace is very different than it was 30 years ago. Both women and men are working. They're trying to raise a family as well," he said.

Anthony Newby of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change supports the bill and hopes it would reduce the large inequality gap in cities like Minneapolis.

"It has a big impact on mothers, single mothers in particular, who are trying to juggle a work schedule and daycare and childcare," he said.

Meanwhile, Iverson is glad the clopenings are gone for another reason: He's a new father.

"You can do it once and the next day's hard, it's not a big deal, but if you do it week after week, it gets really exhausting," he said.

The bill is before the House, and will be introduced in the Senate on Monday. It doesn't completely ban clopenings, but would require advance notice and paying employees time-and-a-half. Backers expect some resistance from business groups who believe scheduling should be left to businesses, not the state.

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