You can like the idea but you don’t have to like this ordinance
Voting “AGAINST” does not mean you are against paid sick leave for Albuquerque workers. Instead, a vote “AGAINST” means “no” to a proposed ordinance that was developed without stakeholder input or consideration of adverse consequences to you.
As a Sept. 4 guest column in the Albuquerque Journal pointed out, “[t]here has been a great deal of misinformation about the contents of the ordinance, but the solution is simple: Every voter should read the ordinance and then vote based on the facts.” We hope that you do, because the proposed ordinance creates adverse consequences that will harm all of us — individuals, as well as businesses — especially nonprofits and small businesses, which account for the majority of nongovernmental jobs in Albuquerque.
The proposed ordinance creates a dangerous number of consequences unrelated to the issue of paid sick leave that courts may never resolve. The development of the proposed ordinance should have provided for a hearing that included robust discussions on these unintended and unrelated consequences. A hearing was, and still is, important because the viewpoints of the stakeholders to which this proposal applies — employers, employees and the general public — should be heard. The process demands openness and transparency in crafting a good and workable policy.
When you read the proposed ordinance, you will see that if an employer were to “report an employee or an employee’s family member to any law enforcement agency” within 90 days of an employee using sick leave, even for just one day, it is presumed to be in retaliation for using sick leave. This presumption shifts the burden to the employer, even in situations where there is suspected abuse or neglect. For example, the ordinance restrains an employer, even a nonprofit agency, from contacting authorities where there is suspected abuse or neglect at nursing homes or day-care centers, because doing so would be presumed retaliation. This cannot be an acceptable consequence.
The proposed ordinance does permit the City Council to amend the law to improve its implementation and enforcement, as long as it does not reduce the law’s protections. That is akin to passing an initiative without any public debate that requires residents to pay a tax that can only be amended to increase taxes and never reduce them.
Therefore, the only way to fix the ordinance is to start over with another citizens’ initiative. That means drafting a new proposed ordinance and collecting thousands of signatures required to get it onto another ballot in a future municipal election, costing taxpayers more money.
This is not the right way to create public policy. This proposed policy has not been drafted as a result of debate and consideration of the resulting consequences on everyone, including employees and businesses. Voters are being asked to approve an ordinance that has not been adequately vetted. No effort has been taken to identify and prevent unintended consequences that will adversely affect individual Albuquerque residents, as well as strangle nonprofits and mom-andpop businesses in Albuquerque, from the Sandia foothills to the lower Rio Grande Valley.
Give all the citizens an opportunity to understand this proposed law’s unintended consequences, which go beyond paid sick leave. Vote “AGAINST” the ordinance, in order to give Albuquerque an opportunity to discuss a paid sick leave policy that is good for all of us.