The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel jumped on the Big Biz bandwagon today railing against Milwaukee’s Paid Sick Days ordinance. They almost dedicated the entire editorial section to attacking the will of nearly 70 percent of Milwaukee voters. Naturally they also suggest that those voters are idiots and that they were somehow fooled into voting for paid sick days because of the wording of the referendum.
In the first of their two editorials attacking paid sick days, they completely and totally tow the corporate lobby line. They talk about “substantial legal questions” but these would be more accurately described as manufactured loopholes by high priced corporate lawyers. For the right fee, you could probably find someone to raise “substantial legal questions” about just about anything, but that does not make the argument legitimate or “substantial”.
The editorial board once again falls back on the centuries-old lie that if you ask big business to raise their minimum standards that it will result in lost jobs and a worse economy. Opponents use this familiar theme while rarely looking at the municipalities across the country that have already enacted similar policies. Clearly they have no interest in what happens in reality.
The first editorial goes on to comment that “sick pay is a great benefit – if employer and employee are free to negotiate the terms in a flexible way.” This comment truly reveals just how out of touch they are with many of the working poor in our community. If they are not represented by a union, many are not in a position to realistically “negotiate” about benefits with their employers. They desperately need their jobs and they have very little leverage and may even fear retribution for even asking.
A community of people have the right to decide on the minimum standards that they will accept. In an absolute landslide, the voters of the City of Milwaukee have established one such standard on November 4, 2008. They decided that no person working here should have to choose between a job and the health of their children. They decided that public health is an important priority and that it should not take a back seat to big business bottom lines, even if that big business is their hometown newspaper.