Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Is the Swine Flu Good for Business?

Next week the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) will be dragging the people of Milwaukee to court again. This time they are expected to request a permanent injunction against the Paid Sick Days ordinance that nearly 70 percent of voters approved. It never ceases to amaze me how conservative corporate interests often rail against the idea of frivolous lawsuits, but when they think that their bottom line may be involved, they are the first to file them. Not only are MMAC and their member businesses trying to circumvent the will of the people as expressed by their votes, but they are also wasting precious taxpayer money by dragging us into court.

MMAC is rehashing the same tired rhetoric that big corporate interests have used throughout our history. Whenever society demands higher standards from them, they use all of their money and influence to fight it. In the process they inevitably say that the higher standards will kill business and lose jobs. Just think of the many things that we now take for granted, that the big business interests fought with almost the same exact arguments. Once again their crying wolf shouldn't be taken seriously. Just look at the real life examples of other communities that have already passed similar ordinances. Reality is quite different than their rhetoric.

Regardless of how severe the Swine Flu is or isn't, it has put a clear focus on the importance of public health. Public health is one of the best arguments for enforcing the Paid Sick Days ordinance in Milwaukee. The vast majority of employees that don't get paid sick days are lower income workers. Many of these come from the food service industry which is probably the last place that we want to see having public health issues. Employees should not be put in the position of either not being able to pay their bills or the passing of their illness on to others. Allowing them such a modest benefit is good for them, their coworkers, the customers and the business.

Paid Sick Days makes sense for everyone involved. The benefit set forth in the Milwaukee ordinance is very modest and will more than likely be made up by the businesses in the form of increased productivity. The workers benefit because they don't have to make a choice between their own health and paying the bills. The public benefits because we won't have as many people ignoring their own illness and then sharing it with the rest of us. MMAC's arguments regarding Paid Sick Days are really absurd when you actually think about it. At this rate the next thing that they will be arguing is that the Swine Flu is actually good for business. They may be advertising geniuses but I doubt that many people are going to buy that one.

If you would like to send a message to MMAC and their member businesses about their lawsuit against Milwaukee, visit the page set up by One Wisconsin Now. You can write just one email and it will be sent to many of the leaders of MMAC and many of the business executives that make up their membership. If they can sue us for wanting higher standards and placing a premium on public health, then we can surely let them know how we feel about it.

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