Albuquerque Journal

Employers, employees stand to lose control of their work conditions

- BY ROXANNE RIVERA-WIEST PRESIDENT, ASSOCIATED BUILDERS AND CONTRACTOR­S OF N.M.

Imagine that you are a concrete contractor working on a large job site. Today is your first concrete pour. You have done the site work; you have set your forms. Now it is time to place the concrete. It is a large site, so you are using a concrete pump to pour the wet concrete. While the wet concrete is being poured, constructi­on workers will be using shovels, rakes and come alongs to move the concrete to make sure there are no voids or air pockets. Once the wet concrete has been placed into the forms, it is screeded, which helps consolidat­e and compact it. Then the concrete is smoothed and leveled to further compact it and create a smooth finish. Finally, the concrete is floated to even out any depression­s or high areas. As you can see, this is a complicate­d, detailed process that requires good prior planning with many employees and every employee knowing their individual contributi­on to a successful pour.

Now imagine that half of your employees do not show up to work on the day of the pour. They did not have to notify you, so you did not have the ability to schedule other employees to take their place. Possibly expensive concrete is lost, and the job is not done. Both the concrete contractor and the general contractor are liable. They lose money, the job falls behind and everyone loses — especially the employees that did show up ready to work but got sent home because the pour did not happen.

This scenario could really take place if the sick leave mandate in the Healthy Workforce Ordinance is voted for on Oct. 3. Under this mandate there is no requiremen­t that an employee notify an employer if they are sick. You as an employer will no longer have control of your work conditions. And employees — you will also have no control over your daily schedules, because you could be asked to cover for anyone who is out, since your employer would have no prior knowledge of the absence of another employee. There are rules that govern sick leave for a reason. Employers must know of and plan if there are absences, so that scenarios like the above are averted and a business can continue to function.

It is apparent that the sick leave mandate will drive up costs for businesses. This will especially be hard for small businesses, which in turn will harm employees and endanger a business’s existence. Business growth is the best way to improve employees’ pay and benefits. As businesses grow, so does their bottom line and their profit margins. In fact, as soon as small businesses can afford to offer benefits like paid sick leave the vast majority do so — especially in the constructi­on industry.

The sick leave mandate will force small businesses to lay off employees or cut hours. Some may cut pay or other benefits. Some may put off hiring employees. There will virtually be no business growth in Albuquerqu­e.

This mandate is “local” in name only. The crafters of this egregious law are New York lawyers and anti-business groups such as Olé, which is an offshoot of the now defunct ACORN. The Associatio­n of Community Organizati­ons for Reform Now famously came under fire a few years ago because its political affiliates engaged in electionee­ring and lobbying. There was also an embezzleme­nt scandal and allegation­s of facilitati­ng voter fraud. The organizati­on officially announced the closure of its offices in 2010 after losing government funding due to the controvers­ies.

Ask yourself if you want out-of-state groups like Olé to create our local business policies. Ask yourself as an employer if you want to lose control of your business. And most importantl­y, ask yourself as an employee if you want an out-of-state group to dictate the fate of your employer, the fate of your work schedule and ultimately the fate of your future employment. If you want a stable work environmen­t, both employers and employees must vote against the sick leave mandate on Oct. 3.

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