Friday, June 12, 2009

9to5 Colorado Disappointed by Judge's Decision on Paid Sick Days

Last November, 70% of voters in Milwaukee voted "YES" to a binding referendum, which would guarantee paid sick days for every worker in the city. But today, Judge Thomas Cooper ruled that because of a single provision, the paid sick days ordinance cannot be implemented.

But Amy Stear, Wisconsin Director of 9to5, said the judge's ruling will not stop paid sick days from becoming the law of the land.

“While we are disappointed that Judge Cooper did not uphold the ordinance, we think higher courts will strike down the narrow grounds on which he based his ruling. We are deeply concerned about the 122,000 Milwaukeeans without paid sick days and their children. For them, justice delayed could have serious economic and health consequences. This delay is especially harmful given the current H1N1 pandemic, the potential that the flu will be even worse in the fall, and the continuing increase in instances of domestic violence.”

Stear pointed out that Judge Cooper agreed with almost all of the legal arguments made by the City and by attorneys for 9to5, which was granted intervenor status in the case. “Corporate lobbyists lost in the voting booth and tried to undermine democracy by blocking implementation of this ordinance,” she said. “Ultimately, they will not be able to stop the will of the people.”

What is the one provision Jude Cooper ruled unacceptable? He found that the ordinance exceeded the City’s police powers with regard to providing use of sick time for relocation and legal action for victims of domestic violence. What is most troubling about this decision is that he could have simply severed this one provision and upheld the ordinance without it. Though important, the ordinance stands on its own without that provision, and the will of the people would've been upheld.

Stear said 9to5 will appeal the decision. “We trust that the City will join us in the appeal, given that they have taken a strong position on the particular legal grounds Judge Cooper has ruled on here.”

The Paid Sick Days Ordinance in Milwaukee created a basic labor standard for workers and their families. Given these tough economic times, and the many public health challenges that face this nation, now is the time for paid sick days. We MUST fight to uphold the will of the people and do what is right for the citizens of Milwaukee, which, not coincidentally, has the highest number of documented cases of H1N1 swine flu in the country.

Click here to show your support for Milwaukee paid sick days by voting "NO" in the poll.

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