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Milwaukee Paid Sick Days Ordinance Continues Its Journey Through the Courts

February 19, 2010

Activists in the paid sick days fight in Milwaukee are continuing to organize as the legal battle makes its way to the State Supreme Court.

On February 18, the Wisconsin State Court of Appeals sent the legal challenge to Milwaukee’s paid sick days ordinance up to the State Supreme Court. The move means continued delay in implementation of the ordinance—approved by nearly 70% of City of Milwaukee voters in a November 2008 referendum vote.

Immediately after voters’ approval of the referendum, the city’s main business lobby, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC), requested a temporary injunction against implementation. The Milwaukee County Circuit Court later rejected most of the MMAC’s arguments but struck down the ordinance on the judge’s opinion that a provision for time off for safety needs related to domestic violence was outside the common understanding of “sick leave.”  9to5, the lead organization in the grassroots coalition that put the ordinance on the ballot, has led the legal appeal of this ruling as an intervenor in the case.

This action by the Court of Appeals asks the State Supreme Court to rule on whether the language on the November 2008 ballot met the statutory requirement that it be a “concise statement of [the ordinance’s] nature.” 9to5 says that the ballot language met the requirement and that voters had access to the full text of the ordinance during the petition signing process and at all polling locations. The MMAC insists that the ballot language needed to include a list of numerous provisions of the ordinance.

Because state law allows Milwaukee’s Common Council to vote to repeal an ordinance passed by referendum two years after the vote, the appeals court is also asking the higher court to rule on whether that 2-year clock has been running while the ordinance has been held up in court.

You can read 9to5’s press release on the court’s action at the 9to5 website.

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