Last week, No On 300 announced the release of the first television spot focusing on the Denver Paid Sick Leave Initiative. The video stars Mayor Michael Hancock and directs attention to the toll the ordinance could have on the city's budget. In contrast, the clip from pro-300 Campaign For a Healthy Denver features an anonymous narrator, but some heavy facts.
By Rebekah Wilce PRWatch-The Center for Media and Democracy
Last week, the city of Philadelphia mandated paid sick days for "workers whose employers have contracts with the city or apply for city subsidies." Last month, Seattle also passed a paid sick leave ordinance. Connecticut passed a bill in June that will make it the first state in the nation to mandate paid sick leave for service workers. Food service workers are a special concern of such laws.
Denver business leaders charged Monday that proponents of a paid sick-leave initiative on the November city ballot are deliberately trying to hurt business at restaurants that have come out against the proposed ordinance.
Backers of Initiative 300 shot back that the opposition campaign is trying to distract voters from the fact that 74 percent of city restaurant workers don't have paid sick leave.
It may seem like a no-brainer: get sick, stay home from work. But 44 million American workers do not get paid sick days from their employers, according to Ellen Bravo, director of Family Values at Work, a 16-state consortium that advocates for family-friendly work policies. In tough economic times, many workers simply cannot afford to stay out of work until they get well. Some employers will even fire workers for taking time off when they or their kids are sick, Bravo said.
You'll be getting your ballot any day now, and we'd like to remind you of two important issues.
One is Proposition 103, the only statewide measure this year. It would raise $536 million each year through 2016 to halt steep cuts to K-12 and higher education. Colorado's tax rates would temporarily return to 1999 levels, with the sales tax rising from 2.9% to 3% and personal and corporate income taxes increasing from 4.63% to 5%.
In liberal enclaves like Seattle, San Francisco and Washington D.C., paid sick leave mandates on private businesses are just considered the routine business of city councils.
But in Denver, which is pretty liberal by mountain west standards, paid sick leave was not being embraced by the City Council, so unions and some of their allied activist groups got it on the November ballot as an initiative.
The Bell Policy Center today is releasing a study on existing research on paid-sick-leave laws.
"The evidence clearly shows that allowing workers to stay home when they or their children are sick will help families and improve public health in Denver," said Wade Buchanan, president of the Bell. "The experience in cities that already have paid-sick-leave laws shows the costs to businesses are modest and manageable – and largely offset by improved productivity and reduced turnover."
This morning's No On 300 rally rally in Skyline Park brought out approximately seventy representatives and supporters of the hospitality industry, everyone from five crop-topped Hooters employees to three much more conservatively dressed Denver City Council members.
But everyone in the group sported the plain but aggressive "No On 300" signs that have popped up in Denver restaurants lately.