Archive for the 'Katie Onachila' Category

Dispatch from Denver: David v. Goliath

We are just one week away from the deadline for Denver voters to turn in their ballots – and vote YES on Initiative 300. It feels like there is an almost tangible energy in the air (I’ve finally acclimated to the altitude, so I don’t think it’s that). The Campaign for a Healthy Denver kicked off this final week with an eye-opening press event this morning.

The campaign’s event announced the release of a report that documents the opposition’s major funding sources. It turns out that national restaurant chains and business lobbies have contributed significantly to efforts to defeat the local Denver paid sick days initiative. In fact, more than $250,000 of the almost $650,000 raised by Initiative 300 opponents has come from national, out-of-state groups.

The Campaign for a Healthy Denver, on the other hand, is a coalition of 156 Denver based public health groups, civil rights organizations, women’s organizations, labor unions and forward-thinking businesses. The push for paid sick days in Denver really is a David versus Goliath fight.

The opposition’s spending is reflected in the comments I’ve heard from voters when phonebanking and canvassing. Breaking through the opposition’s messaging has been challenging but, once voters understand why paid sick days are so important, they see why voting yes on Initiative 300 is the right thing to do.

Today’s press event called out the opposition’s big money. We need to spread the word and do our best to make sure common sense prevails so that voters vote YES on Initiative 300!

Dispatch from Denver: Sick Rick Goes Viral

Hi, everyone! I’m Katie, a legal fellow at the National Partnership. I arrived in Denver late last week and have been busy volunteering with the Campaign for a Healthy Denver the past few days. This weekend, I got a chance to interview the campaign’s six-foot-tall mascot, Sick Rick, for YouTube.

Since his debut in downtown Denver, Sick Rick has gained a lot of attention. He symbolizes the germs that spread when the more than 107,000 Denver workers without paid sick days must work while sick. The threat to public health is real, and Sick Rick is helping to raise awareness.

Opponents of paid sick days in Denver have criticized Sick Rick as a political stunt that is hurting businesses. They fail to realize that Sick Rick isn’t the problem – the problem is the failure to adopt workplace policies that allow workers to earn paid sick days, so they can stay home when they are sick. And that’s why we need Initiative 300.

To amplify Sick Rick’s message and explain his role in the campaign for Initiative 300, the Campaign for a Healthy Denver decided to create a video to explain the purpose of the mascot. That’s where I – subtly dubbed “Warbara Balters” for the interview – come in…

In the video, which will be available soon, viewers find out that Sick Rick’s uncle, Big Business, has been wining and dining the germ in Denver. Big Business has apparently facilitated Sick Rick’s introduction to a variety of workers by failing to provide paid sick days. Warbara Balters even offers the germ a chance to respond to scathing accusations that the germ flourishes among Denver’s children because, when working parents don’t have paid sick days, kids are often forced to go to school or day care sick where they can spread illness.

Sick Rick tries to turn the tables and emphasize the campaign’s toll on his own family. It seems his cousin, Cyrus the Virus, was devastated by Seattle’s passage of a paid sick days measure last month. And Sick Rick is too distraught to even discuss the difficulties for a germ living in San Francisco given the city’s progressive paid sick days protections for workers. In his closing plea, the germ says that opposing Initiative 300 is a matter of survival if germs want to thrive – just before spraying a silly-string sneeze all over a disgusted and stunned Warbara Balters.

Overall, the video is an entertaining attempt at explaining the very real consequences when so many Denver workers cannot earn any paid sick days. I’ll check back in soon with a link to the video!

UPDATE: The video is up! Check it out: