Ted Bobrow

What Would Ebenezer Do?

By - Jan 6th, 2009 02:52 pm
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Nobody likes it when somebody tells them what to do so I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the business community is throwing a hissy fit over the new Milwaukee sick leave law.

But the truth is that the local chapter of the 9 to 5 organization played by the rules and collected enough signatures to place the proposal before the Common Council.

Then, also according to the rules, the council had the choice of either passing the proposal or submitting it to referendum (which they did).

The City Attorney determined that the proposal was legal and, on November 5th, the voters overwhelmingly supported the fairly modest proposal.

So, beginning next month, large employers in Milwaukee will be required to offer nine sick days a year to fulltime employees (smaller firms will need to offer five days) and the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce and others are yelling that the sky is falling.

Do you think I’m exaggerating? Well I don’t think there’s any other way to describe it when the MMAC director of government affairs Steve Bass refers to the new law as “terrorism.”

In other words, when a democratic process requires employers to treat their workers compassionately, then it’s the same as murdering innocent civilians.

With all due respect, Mr. Bass, take your head out of your ass and learn to choose your words more carefully.

Now some concerns about this sick leave requirement deserve to be addressed. Some say that the cost to employers is excessive and may discourage new businesses from locating in Milwaukee and may even drive existing ones to close or move.

I say, I doubt it. Let’s see the evidence. It certainly didn’t have that kind of effect on the other two cities where it has been in place for several years.

But a clearly ridiculous argument, undoubtedly thought up by some high-priced attorney looking for a weakness in the law, suggests that requiring sick leave deprives employers and their workers of the right to negotiate benefits.

That’s right, a sick leave mandate obstructs workers rights.

George Orwell, meet MMAC President Tim Sheehy.

I don’t think even Scrooge would have come up with that argument.

Reminds me of the GM, Chrysler and Ford CEOs flying in to Washington, DC on separate private jets to ask for a bailout.

Do you somehow lose your common sense when you get paid with stock options? Even Frank Capra couldn’t make this stuff up.

And, as if to add insult to injury, this imbroglio happened to break out during the holiday season when we are all supposed to be thinking about the needy and appreciating the message of a holy man who lived 2000 years ago.

What am I thinking? Christmas is about getting presents and stimulating the economy. Duh!

I guess that Wise Guy was on to something when he said “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24)

Categories: Gray Matter

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