Milwaukee Paid Sick Leave Initiative (2008)

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The Milwaukee Paid Sick Leave Initiative was a citizen initiated measure in Milwaukee County. It was brought to the ballot by utilizing direct legislation, which allows citizens to propose legislation to a city or village.

The measure intended to require employers in the City of Milwaukee to give employees one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, or nine days per year. The paid time off could be used if the employee is ill, if a family member is ill, or for time off used to attend to medical or legal issues resulting from domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

Lawsuit issues

This measures still has not been enacted into law because a lawsuit was taken out concerning the wording of the measure, those who brought the lawsuit state that the wording was too vague and did not accurately portray the issue. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals has referred the issue to the Supreme Court. The appeals court was unsure if they even can allow the law to not be enacted because Wisconsin law says a vote by referendum cannot be changed two years after the decision was made by the voters[1]. The Wisconsin Supreme Court accepted the case on March 22, 2010[2].

The Wisconsin Supreme Court heard oral arguments on October 1, 2010 to determine if the initiative is legal[3]. Wisconsin's highest court on October 14, 2010, sent the case back to the Court of Appeals as the case was deadlocked[4].

Many businesses are waiting on the court's decision as future decisions could be impacted by the ruling[5]

Status

Struck down by Milwaukee Circuit Court Judge Cooper, June 12, 2009[6] The District I Wisconsin Court of Appeals referred the case to the Wisconsin Supreme Court on February 17, 2010. Wisconsin Supreme Court granted certification on March 22, 2010[7]. Oral arguments were heard by the Supreme Court on October 1, 2010[3] and the case was referred back to the Court of Appeals on October 14, 2010[4].

  • CLICK HERE for the Wisconsin Supreme Court's decision sending the case back to the Court of Appeals.
  • CLICK HERE for a copy of the ruling referring the case to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
  • CLICK HERE for a copy of the Milwaukee County Circuit Court's ruling striking down the sick leave measure.

History of the Measure

The day after the referendum was approved the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) filed a notice of claim to Milwaukee, informing the city they would take legal action against the measure, contenting "the ordinance exceeds the legislative authority conferred to the city by the state."[8]

Calling it “a fight we cannot afford to sit out [of],” the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC) filed suit on December 22, 2008, challenging the city of Milwaukee’s paid sick leave mandate.[9] The initial hearing was postponed after Judge John DiMotto recused himself, saying “Based on current events and my own past personal experiences, I am presently unable to say with confidence that I can decide the case fairly and impartially, based only on the evidence and the law.”[10] Prior to his recusal, Judge DiMotto allowed 9to5, the main proponent of the referendum, to join the city in defending the ordinance.[11]

On June 12, 2009, Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Thomas Cooper found the measure unconstitutional. Cooper said the measure was a case in which "a proposed ordinance's reach exceeds its grasp."[12][13]

On June 17, 2009, supporters of the measure, including members of 9 to 5, asked the City of Milwaukee to join them in appealing the ruling.[14]

Election result

Municipal Referendum-Mandatory Sick Leave
Result Votes Percentage
Approveda Yes 157,117 68.8%
No 71,131 31.2%
Total votes 228,248 100.00%
Voter turnout 80.3%%


Source: City of Milwaukee Election Commission

Text of Measure

"Shall the City of Milwaukee adopt Common Council File 080420, being a substitute ordinance requiring employers within the city to provide paid sick leave to employees?”


YES
NO

A “yes” vote on the question is in favor of adoption of Common Council File Number 080420, being a substitute ordinance requiring employers to provide paid sick leave to employees who are employed within the City of Milwaukee.

A “no” vote on the question is in opposition to adoption of Common Council File Number 080420, being a substitute ordinance requiring employers to provide paid sick leave to employees who are employed within the City of Milwaukee.

Support

"A coalition of labor, educational and community organizations calling itself Paid Sick Days Milwaukee, led by 9 to 5, the National Association of Working Women, is behind the effort."[15]

Opposition

Business leaders in Milwaukee have expressed their opposition to the measure.[16]

Mayor Tom Barrett is opposed to the measure.[17]

Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce.

External links

References

  1. The Daily Reporter, "Sick leave lawsuit hinges on referendum question," February 18, 2010
  2. Wisconsin Court System, "Supreme Court accepts five new cases," March 22, 2010
  3. 3.0 3.1 Today's TMJ 4 "State Supreme Court To Hear Arguments about Milwaukee Sick Leave Ordinance," October 1, 2010
  4. 4.0 4.1 Today's TMJ 4 "Supreme Court Deadlocked on Milwaukee Paid Sick Leave Ordinance" October 14, 2010
  5. The Daily reporter, "Businesses on hold in sick leave case (UPDATE)," February 18, 2010
  6. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Judge finds city's sick leave mandate unconstitutional," June 12, 2009
  7. Wisconsin Court System, "Supreme Court accepts five new cases," March 22, 2010
  8. MMAC files legal document against sick leave mandate, BizTimes Daily, November 5, 2008
  9. Lawsuit challenges city of Milwaukee’s paid sick leave mandate, CCH Technical Answer Group, January 8, 2009
  10. Judge pulls out of sick-leave lawsuit, Wisconsin Law Journal, January 22, 2009
  11. Judge lets 9to5 join defense of Milwaukee sick pay ordinance, WisBusiness, January 14, 2009
  12. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Judge finds city's sick leave mandate unconstitutional," June 12, 2009
  13. Text of Judge Cooper's decision
  14. Sick leave supporters ask city to join appeal of ruling that struck down ordinance
  15. Petitioners press city to require paid sick days , Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 22, 2008
  16. City business leaders oppose mandatory paid sick leave, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 9, 2008
  17. Newswatch:Barrett opposes sick leave referendum, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 23, 2008

Additional reading