Everyone should have sick days

Everyone gets sick, but only half of the people who work in Albuquerque have access to sick days. That means employees lose a day’s wages if they stay home to care for a child or themselves. Some go to work sick or drop off sick kids at school. Some even get fired for staying home with the flu.

It’s no wonder the Healthy Workforce initiative – which would allow all employees to earn paid sick time while they work – is so popular.

Healthy Workforce has such broad support that a group that’s trying to stop it has launched a campaign filled with lies about the ordinance and is even trying to cheat voters out of a fair election.

The Journal Editorial Board joined the opposition campaign with a recent editorial chock-full of misinformation starting with the date of the election, which is Oct. 3, not the 10th, as the editorial says. So much for journalistic integrity.

The Journal says the ordinance would force companies to change existing Paid Time Off policies, also known as PTO. This is wrong. The ordinance states: “An employer with a paid leave policy that meets or exceeds the requirements of this ordinance is not required to provide additional paid sick time or in any way reduce the benefits provided to employees.”

Now for the cheating: The Journal argues that the city should put the entire text of the ordinance on the ballot. We agree that voters should read the ordinance, but the city is trying to turn voters against Healthy Workforce by proposing it be printed on the ballot in 6-point font. This is 6-point font.

The mayor and some city councilors don’t want you to read the ordinance. They want you to be frustrated by the illegible font so that you vote against the proposal or choose not to vote at all!

In our lawsuit against the city, we are still waiting for the District Court to rule on the font size. There are good alternatives to the 6-point font that the city proposes. The city clerk can put a copy of the ordinance in 8.5 font in every voting booth so people who want to read it can do so without a magnifying glass. Easy. But the city would prefer to make it hard for voters to read the proposal so opponents can fill voters’ heads with lies about Healthy Workforce. You can read the entire ordinance at www.healthyworkforceabq.org.

The mayor and the councilors who support his agenda are trying to cheat voters out of a fair election on a reasonable proposal that will make Albuquerque healthier and happier.

The proposal would allow employees to earn 1 hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours they work, and they could use a maximum of seven sick days per year, five if they work for a small employer. This proposal is similar to sick-day ordinances in cities around the country, including Minneapolis, St. Paul, New York City, San Diego and Seattle.

The Journal and opponents of the ordinance call the Healthy Workforce initiative radical.

Some of these opponents are part of the same group that is suing to lower Albuquerque’s minimum wage from $8.80 to $7.50. These opponents aren’t acting in the best interest of our city. They’re irresponsible. If these opponents think paying $8.80 an hour is too much money, it’s no wonder they believe earning up to five days of sick time each year is radical.

We’re fighting this summer to spread the truth about our earned sick days ordinance and to stop our government from trying to rig an unfair election. Voters deserve better. Albuquerque deserves better.

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