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DEVELOPING STORY

Paid Sick Days Measure Dropped From Ballot

    The Ohio Healthy Families Act, the initiative measure that would have required Ohio employers to provide paid sick days, has been removed from the November ballot.
    Jim Wyse, Archbold mayor, said early Thursday afternoon (approximately 1:45 pm) he had contacted the company that balked at bringing 500 new jobs to Archbold because of the sick days proposal, but had not received a return call from company officials.
    Later, about 3:45 pm, Wyse said he had received an email message from the Ohio Department of Development, explaining the current situation. Wyse said he passed that message on to the unidentified company.

   At the Monday night, July 7, meeting of Archbold Village Council, Wyse said village officials had been negotiating with an unnamed company to locate a production facility in Archbold.
    A few days later, Kevin Sauder, president and chief executive officer of Sauder Woodworking, announced there were plans to sell or lease a portion of one of the Woodworking factory facilities to the unnamed firm.
    That all fell apart when the company announced that as long as the possibility existed that the paid sick days initiative could become law, the firm would not locate any new facility in Ohio.
    Ted Strickland, Ohio governor, led an attempt to reach a compromise agreement between the business community and the Ohio Healthy Families Coalition. When that effort failed, Strickland announced his opposition to the measure.

Sick Days
    The proposal, backed by more than 200 organizations that made up the Ohio Healthy Families Coalition, was on track to go before Ohio voters on the Nov. 4 ballot. If voters approved the measure, it would have required companies with 25 or more workers to give each employee up to seven paid sick days a year.
    Part-time employees would have also received sick days, on a prorated basis.
    Business and other groups opposed the measure and said it would be difficult and expensive to comply with such a mandate, and would make Ohio uncompetitive in attracting new business.
    Ted Strickland, Ohio governor, led an attempt to reach a compromise agreement between the business community and the Ohio Healthy Families Coalition. When the effort failed, Strickland announced his opposition to the measure.
Coalition
   
Brian Dunn, campaign manager for the Ohio Healthy Families Coalition, said Thursday afternoon, "We made what was a very difficult and carefully thought-out decision along with Governor (Ted) Strickland to remove the issue from the ballot."
    The proposal, backed by more than 200 organizations that make up the Coalition, was on track to go before Ohio voters on the November 4 ballot.
    If voters approved the measure, it would have required companies with 25 or more workers to give each employee up to seven paid sick days a year. Part-time employees would have also received sick days, on a prorated basis.
    Business and other groups opposed the measure, saying it would be difficult and expensive to comply with such a mandate, and would make Ohio uncompetitive in attracting new business.
    Dunn said there were a couple of reasons to pull the paid sick days proposal from the ballot, "Not the least of which is there seems to be great support for a national solution" to the sick days issue.
    Dunn said a study released by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago a week ago said 77% of those surveyed supported paid sick days, and 86% said workers should be allowed to earn paid sick days.
    Another carefully considered point, Dunn said was that the opposition to the sick days proposal would have been divisive.
    "That would have been damaging to Ohio," he said.
    "We feel strongly that no worker should lose their job, or a paycheck, because he or she, or a child or another immediate family member, occasionally gets sick," Dunn said.
    Paperwork to remove Issue 4, the sick days proposal, was filed Thursday, Dunn said.

Remove
    Keith Dailey, spokesman for Strickland, said, "Senator (Sherrod) Brown (D-Ohio), the governor, and the lieutenant governor (Lee Fisher) have continued to make it clear they were certainly willing to listen to any proposal (regarding paid sick days), but they did not believe this (the ballot initiative) was the right way to obtain the worthy goal of paid sick leave," Dailey said.
    In a press release, Strickland said, "While I support providing paid sick leave to working families, I was deeply concerned that a divisive public campaign about Ohio’s business climate, as well as the enactment of new requirements that would put Ohio at a competitive disadvantage, would both negatively impact Ohio’s economy.
    "We need to be doing everything we can to help Ohio businesses and industries grow to retain and create new jobs," Fisher said.
    "We’re pleased that the SEIU (Service Employees International Union) and all of the Healthy Families Act proponents have taken this step today."
   
Federal Legislation
    In the press release, Strickland said he supports the enactment of federal legislation that would establish required sick days nationally.
    He said he and his staff are ready to provide input to craft a thoughtful federal bill, drawing upon their recent effort to devise a workable compromise bill in Ohio.
    There currently is a paid sick days bill pending.

    Dunn said the Health Families Coalition intends to focus attention on a national solution for the paid sick days question.
    The Archbold Buckeye is attempting to reach Brown’s office.¬–Updated 9.4.08, 5:09 p.m.
 



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