You can like the idea but you don’t have to like this or­di­nance

Albuquerque Journal - - OP-ED - BY MICHELLE A HER­NAN­DEZ IN­COM­ING CHAIR, AL­BU­QUERQUE HIS­PANO CHAM­BER OF COM­MERCE

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.

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