Michael Hancock comes out against the paid sick leave ballot initiative

michael hancock pointing.jpg
On his thirtieth day in office, Mayor Michael Hancock really got down to business yesterday, outlining a better, faster, stronger city government in a speech at the Metro Denver Chamber of Commerce's State of the City Luncheon that included his opposition to Initiative 300, the paid sick leave proposal on this November's ballot.

"It was important for me to leave the chamber members and Denver's business community with a clear message that our work to build a 21st century administration is well on its way," Hancock said. "After listening to Denver citizens, businesses and hundreds of leaders, we know we have to build a better, faster, and stronger city government if we are to meet the challenges and opportunities of this great city."

And business owners worry that Initiative 300 could only add more challenges. "I am going to stand with you to oppose the paid sick leave ballot measure," Hancock told the hundreds of business people at the luncheon. "I understand and appreciate what the proponents are trying to do to help employees, but this measure at this time is the wrong approach."

And very, very complicated: laudatory in principle, but full of potential pitfalls. Here's the language for Initiative 300, the Denver Paid Sick and Safe Time proposal.

Expect Mayor Hancock to talk about this more at 10 a.m. today, when he makes his monthly appearance on Mike Rosen's show on KOA, 850 AM.

Missed "Michael Hancock's office misses a chance for face time in the Los Angeles Times"? Read it here.

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Stephanie Bakersfield
Stephanie Bakersfield

Initiative 300 is the most restrictive paid sick leave in the country and disproportionately affects small business in Denver. It treats small, family-owned businesses with 10 employees the same as a large business with 250 employees. This does not seem fair to me. Small businesses with fewer than 9 employees have to provide 5 days of paid sick leave. Businesses with 10+ employees would have to provide 9 days of paid sick leave. With the economy right now, this is not the right time to implement a mandate that will increase costs. Many small companies may have to reduce employee hours, shifts, and/or benefits in order to compensate for the increased costs of this initiative. This in effect, will actually hurt the people whom the proponents say it will help. Also, this initiative is vaguely worded and would even allow employees to take paid time off for “people of close affinity”. It also places a burden on employers with the extra record keeping and presumption of guilt. We need to support the small businesses we have in Denver and keep the jobs we have here. I will definitely be voting No.

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

The first four-and-a-half pages of Initiative 300 are devoted to the findings which justify passage and its purpose, which I agree is laudatory.  As for its "potential pitfalls". they seem clear enough, and not at all potential:  businesses that depend on the exploitation of their workers will oppose it tooth and nail, and some may decamp to less labor-friendly corners of the greater sprawl.

The questions before voters are 1) whether they support workers who get sick, and 2) whether they realize that mandating paid sick leave will economically benefit not just the workers not fired for becoming ill, but Denver as a whole, and, yes, even the purblind members of the Chamber of Commerce -- the liability for paid sick time is limited (to no more than 40 hours annually for small businesses) and should be more than offset by reduced costs due to "presenteeism" (showing up infective) and the many other benefits accruing from not threatening employees' jobs when they have the misfortune of falling vicitim to crime or disease.  To me, the choice seems clear -- barring someone mounting a real argument against the Initiative, I will vote for it.  I do not consider the measure "very, very complicated", and should voters tax their minds to consider the facts rather than endorse the Chamber and City's inertia, it will pass.

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