Albuquerque Journal

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.

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