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Minneapolis Mayor Frey says comment that remote workers would turn into "losers" was a joke

Minneapolis Mayor Frey says “losers” comment was joke after social media backlash
Minneapolis Mayor Frey says “losers” comment was joke after social media backlash 01:52

MINNEAPOLIS — Mayor Jacob Frey is facing some heat for a comment he made earlier this week, calling "at home" workers "losers." He has since clarified that the comments were made as "a joke."

When Frey said, if people stayed at home working for more than three months they risk becoming "losers," he says it was his way of having fun with the crowd at the Minneapolis Downtown Council annual meeting Wednesday. The comment that caught people's attention on social media: "When they stay home sitting on their coach with their nasty cat blanket, diddling on their laptop, if they do that for a few months, you become a loser. We're not losers are we?"

On Thursday morning, Frey said that the people who were in the room took it as a joke, as he intended.

"When it gets taken out of context in a social media post, things can run wild," Frey said.

And his comments certainly did run wild. Many people responded negatively on social media, but Frey insists he was joking. Frey said that his joke actually centered around a fictional study, referencing non-existent people and "coming to a conclusion that I think we can all agree would be ridiculous that no study would ever come to."

Frey then went on to say his responsibility is to bring more people to live, play and work in downtown Minneapolis. He highlighted the good points of downtown during his address, including the growth in housing units, along with the influx of people attending theatre, concerts and restaurants.

Among the things discussed during the Wednesday meeting was the fact that Target is no longer the largest employer in Downtown Minneapolis. Target has been among the employers who are still letting a number of workers work remotely, long after the crest of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The numbers show that Hennepin Healthcare is now the biggest employer in downtown Minneapolis. In total, the top 15 downtown employers reported having about 1,500 more workers than the previous year.

Meanwhile, several businesses have seen an uptick in employees coming back to work in offices downtown. About 65% of downtown workers are coming to the office at least once a week, which is up from 62% a year ago. Frey says we should build on that, instead of focusing on jokes.

"There are very serious things. We were just discussing one of them a second ago. Cat blankets are not [serious]. It was at a business luncheon and I made a joke. That's it," Frey said.

That serious thing referred to by Frey was the controversy over Minneapolis City Council overriding Frey's veto of the council resolution calling for a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas conflict. In the wake of the council's override, Frey passed his own proclamation calling for a cease-fire.

WCCO anchor Amelia Santaniello served as emcee for Wednesday's Minneapolis Downtown Council meeting.

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