Since late May, a broad coalition of workers, businesses, unions and advocates in Orange County, Florida, have been working mightily to qualify an earned sick time initiative for the November ballot. This week, the corporate business lobby – which routinely uses baseless tactics to spread misinformation about paid sick days proposals – turned its attention to the Orange County effort. Its tactic? A legal challenge designed to disrupt growing support and momentum and distract voters from the real issue.
Late Wednesday, less than a week before tens of thousands of petition signatures in support of Orange County’s proposed earned sick time initiative are due, the Greater Orlando Chamber of Commerce joined two well-funded special interest business associations in filing a lawsuit challenging the language of the proposed initiative. At the same time, the Orlando Sentinel exposed a coordinated and well-funded special interest campaign to oppose the measure (to the tune of as much as $2.2 million). If successful, these moves would undermine direct democracy in Orange County by preventing voters from considering an earned sick time standard in November.
The Orange County earned sick time coalition immediately exposed the lawsuit for what it so clearly is: a stall tactic on the part of a powerful minority that wants nothing more than to deny workers, business and the citizens of Orange County an opportunity to strengthen the local economy, protect the public’s health and provide stability for working families. The coalition noted that the language in the earned sick time initiative has undergone thorough legal review without objection.
These opposition claims on the part of corporate interests are baseless and, more importantly, they completely miss the point. Hundreds of thousands of workers in Orange County cannot earn a single paid sick day to recover from illness and protect the health of their families and communities without jeopardizing their economic security. A broad coalition that represents the people’s interests is working to change that. And a narrow group of special interests should not be permitted to obstruct progress or undermine the rights of voters to consider such a common sense measure.