In November 2008, almost 70 percent of Milwaukee voters approved an ordinance granting paid sick days to every worker in the city. But the paid sick days ordinance has not yet been implemented in Milwaukee because of a legal challenge from the business lobby.
Two weeks ago, a judge’s ruling in the case caused the will of the voters to be further delayed. Judge Thomas Cooper ruled that a provision granting paid sick time to help protect the safety of survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking was not “rationally related to the overall objectives of the ordinance.”
His ruling shocked advocates for those who have lived the reality of domestic abuse.
Read the reaction of Milwaukee residents Jennifer and Peter Buffet, co-chairs of the NoVo Foundation of New York, in an op-ed printed in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel this week — “Sick Pay Law Should Cover Abuse Victims,” http://www.jsonline.com/news/opinion/48927532.html.
Judge Cooper DID uphold paid sick days as a basic labor standard. He rejected the arguments of the business lobby that the ordinance was unconstitutional. And he essentially validated the hard work and dedication of the Milwaukee Paid Sick Days Coalition, led by the members of the Milwaukee Chapter of 9to5, National Association of Working Women.
But for too long, victims of domestic violence have been blamed for their plight and the Buffet’s op-ed shows why this ruling should not be allowed to stand as precedent.
About the Author: Linda Meric is Executive Director of 9to5, National Association of Women, which helps strengthen women’s ability to achieve economic justice. 9to5 has staffed offices in Wisconsin, Colorado, California and Georgia and activists in cities across the country.
This article originally appeared in 9to5.org. Re-printed with permission from the author.