The Waukesha Chamber of Commerce has announced that it plans to join the Milwaukee Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce in aggressively opposing Milwaukee's sick leave ordinance arguing that it would create a "negative business climate for the region...."
On November 4th Milwaukee residents by more than two to one approved a binding referendum that requires employers to provide their employees with paid sick days. Milwaukee joined San Francisco and Washington D.C. as the third city requiring sick day benefits.
Under the new law a full-time worker would earn a minimum of one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, or nine days a year. Businesses with 10 or fewer employees would be required to provide 5 days a year to full-time employees.
For most of the past decade Waukesha's employers have experienced labor shortages. Until the recent economic downturn, businesses reported that the biggest obstacle to expansion was a shortage of skilled workers.
Increasing compensation by providing additional benefits such as paid sick leave makes employment more attractive. It builds employee loyalty which increases productivity.
Henry Ford understood this basic truth when a century ago he established the $5 day, doubling the average manufacturing wage. Ford's 300% turn-over rate vanished as increased compensation bought increased loyalty from Ford's employees.
The Waukesha Chamber of Commerce knows that if Milwaukee-based firms provide their employees with paid sick days it will make it harder for Waukesha firms that do not provide these benefits to compete for workers.
Companies can compete based on high-volume, low-cost production or they can compete through innovation, quality production and high levels of service. The Waukesha Chamber of Commerce is committed to a low-road strategy that might help some firms prosper in the short run, but will not create a thriving regional economy with shared prosperity.