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Sick leave is key for our families

When Albuquerque families, which includes grandparents, lgbtq+ families and other significant relationships, can care for themselves by recovering from illness without having to work sick, taking time to care for a sick child instead of sending her to school sick, and having the time to secure safe housing when domestic violence is a threat, we will take a great step toward uniting a city by putting family first.

Some business groups, however, think ideology alone can make Albuquerque a better home for its residents – as seen most recently in the May 2 op-ed by the Association of Home Builders and Contractors. Rather than work constructively with city leaders and the Healthy Workforce coalition on passing an earned sick days ordinance that strengthens families and employers, they are basically saying NO ordinance is acceptable.

Why? Because these business groups believe that low wages and no benefits somehow lead to prosperity for all.

We’re not interested in that ideological debate.

Last fall, some business groups said they weren’t opposed to all sick-days bills, just the one that was on the ballot in October. Now we are learning (some are). They do oppose all sick-day bills. And they are content with keeping Albuquerque divided and on a low road to economic development.

More than 100,000 employees in Albuquerque, who get sick just like you and we do, have to work sick or lose a day’s pay when they care for themselves or a family member. Some employees risk losing their job if they take a sick day, even if they have something highly contagious or debilitating like the flu.

Some business groups, who claim to speak for all businesses but clearly do not, care more about ideology than the grim reality that nearly half of our workforce has to work sick. It’s not surprising. These are some of the same groups that tried to repeal Albuquerque’s minimum wage law last year with a failed lawsuit.

Our city is sick of what these groups have brought Albuquerque. As they championed low-wage, no-benefit policies, we’ve watched our economy stagnate. We’ve watched millennials leave Albuquerque for places like Arizona and Austin, both of which recently passed very strong earned-sick-days laws. We’ve seen crime skyrocket, but these groups have just doubled-down on their race to the bottom.

We can’t let them win that race. We love Albuquerque. We’re not moving to Austin or Minneapolis, but we do envy how these cities have grown prosperity for working families.

These cities govern responsibly, ignoring the well-connected, ideological bullies who perpetuate this bankrupt and short-sighted vision. We can’t let these same groups who have led our economic development strategy continue to drive our city into the ground. We want to work with the City Council and Mayor Tim Keller to pass a strong, effective sick-days law that makes Albuquerque a leader in quality of life. That’s why we’ve proposed amendments to Councilor Ken Sanchez’s sick-days ordinance that provide every employee access to sick days and allow businesses time to ramp up to the new standard. The proposal is significantly different from the initiative that was proposed and narrowly defeated last fall, addressing all of the concerns that voters expressed about the Healthy Workforce Act.

These business groups that object to any kind of sick-days ordinance want to preserve the Albuquerque of the past decade. No one else wants that. Let them fight their outdated and backward ideological battles. The rest of us can focus on building ONE Albuquerque, where all hard-working families have what they need to care for themselves and contribute to their community.

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