Should Paid Sick Leave Affect All businesses?

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Do you approve or disapprove of Eugene’s paid sick leave proposal covering employees for all businesses regardless of the business’ size?

For complete poll results, click here.

Eugene Paid Sick Leave Proposal Moving Too Fast?

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Is Eugene’s Paid Sick Leave proposal moving too fast, too slow, or just about right?

For complete poll results, click here.

Familiarity with Eugene Paid Sick Leave Proposal

Monday, July 21st, 2014

Familiarity with Eugene’s Paid Sick Leave proposal can be seen here.

Eugene Paid Sick Holding but Opposition Up a Bit

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

Do you support or oppose the City of Eugene requiring businesses providing services within the city limits to offer sick time to employees on an annual basis?

For complete poll results, click here.

Waterloo at 8th Avenue and Pearl Street? by Pat Farr

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

 

Wait a moment!  Do we really have to do this?

Wait a moment! Do we really have to do this?      (painting by William Holmes Sullivan)

To a casual observer it may seem evident that the City of Eugene’s government and that of Lane County have irreconcilable differences.  Such an observation is likely boosted by the current clash regarding the City of Eugene’s proposed sick leave ordinance.  The City has published a draft ordinance (click here, then select Council Bill 5125) that Lane County officials believe may be costly to the county’s weakened general fund budget.

So  Lane County Commissioners responded by drafting three ordinances (click here for Forum Lane links to the ordinances) that would intervene, ahead of the passage of the Eugene ordinance, to preclude the city from placing regulations on public bodies and private businesses in their human resource practices.

It seems like a battle is brewing, in fact may have already begun.  But it does not have to be so.  In the The Art of War, Sun Tzu says that the best way to win a battle is without fighting.  He also implies that, “Where the army is, prices are high; when prices rise the wealth of the people is exhausted…”

By fighting a battle on any front the City of Eugene and Lane County will exhaust both their resources and their credibility with the people they serve.

The Eugene City Council moved very quickly to its action point regarding passing a sick leave ordinance.  Little or no contact was made with other overlapping and adjacent jurisdictions to coordinate efforts or to work out compromise in a way that could result in no battle being fought. In seeming disregard for its stated desire for exhaustive public process and input the Council has ignored both.

The Council deadline, a work session and possible action set for July 21, caused a quickly crafted response from the county in order to fulfill its public hearing requirements before considering action prior to the Council’s work session.  Unlike the city, Lane County requires a 13-day period between first reading and passage of any ordinance, thus allowing for increased public input.  In order to pass any precluding ordinance prior to the city’s July 21 meeting, the County’s first reading had to take place on July 8.  County Commissioners were seizing the high ground in the upcoming battle, and the stakes are high.

This hasty back-and-forth action/reaction is not evidence of good government.   The city and the county must work together, today and for the future.  We have too many mutual concerns and overlapping duties to not do so.  We have too few resources to not consolidate all we have and serve in the best way possible.

The list of current and pressing issues that are being worked on together is long.  An abundance of issues are swirling that cannot be resolved without great coordination and great mutual respect.  The battle lines that are currently being drawn are dimming to the point of possibly extinguishing  the shoulder-to-shoulder efforts we are involved in.

Here are but a few current reasons that it is important to keep the city and the county on the highest level of working terms:

1.         Poverty and Homelessness Commission.  This newly-formed work group has replaced other separate committees to consolidate its efforts and resources to maximize available funds and staff.  This will further our needed ability to care for the working poor and the indigent in our community.  Four elected officials are a part of this group, including Mayor Kitty Piercy, Mayor Christine Lundberg, Representative Val Hoyle and me (chair of the Lane County Board of Commissioners).  There is no room for tension.

2.         Downtown Farmers’ Market.  It is widely considered to be an invaluable addition to Eugene’s downtown vitality to facilitate a year-round farmers’ market some place near the government center and the court house.  Conditions exist that will take great coordination between the city and the county if the market’s potential is to be realized.  There is no room for tension.

3.         Envision Eugene:  residential and industrial land use.  The city and county are currently working on a long-studied expansion of Eugene’s urban growth boundary.  This will require cooperation and coordination to add residential land and industrial land in the most appropriate places.  There is no room for tension.

Eugene and Lane County have a long list of other cooperative efforts that have been fostered and nurtured for years.  We work together on the Human Services Commission; Lane Area Commission on Transportation; the Metropolitan Policy Commission; Lane Council of Governments and a plethora of other committees, commissions and joint efforts that also have no room for tension.

Additionally, the City of Eugene is currently using part of Lane County’s Public Service Building and Harris Hall meeting chamber as a temporary city hall.  The contract is due for reinstatement and/or renegotiation.  There is no room for tension.

In short, the city and county have to work together starting now to resolve what could turn into a tense and nonproductive episode in our relationship.  The city should put the brakes on passage of its sick leave ordinance until details have been worked out in the actual language of the ordinance.  Details that more closely satisfy the needs (and wants) of staff, elected officials and most importantly the people we serve.

If the Eugene City Council can provide more time to answer outstanding questions, I have to believe that satisfactory resolutions can be achieved.

 

Lane County sets second reading on ordinances in response to Eugene’s impending “mandatory sick leave ordinance” passage. by Pat Farr

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

 

Lane County logo blue

Lane County’s Board of County Commissioners passed the first reading of three ordinances which were designed to respond to the fast-tracked forwarding and passage of the City of Eugene’s Council Bill 5125, an Ordinance Concerning Sick Leave (Click here for Eugene’s website, then click on Council Bill 5125).

Ordinance 14-04 (Click here for full text)  This ordinance, if passed, would exempt Lane County from any other local government’s attempt to change terms or conditions of employment for that jurisdiction.

Ordinance 14-05 (Click here for full text)  This ordinance, if passed, would do the same for any local government (cities, for instance) that are in Lane County.

Ordinance 14-06 (Click here for full text)  This ordinance, if passed, would exempt any employer with employees located in Lane County from the same.

What the first two would accomplish would be protecting either (14-04) Lane County government from mandates of Eugene’s sick leave ordinance or (14-04) any government body in Lane County (14-05) from the same.

Ordinance 14-06 would exempt “Any Employer That Has Employees Located in Lane County from Any Resolution, Ordinance, Rule or Regulation Adopted by Any Unit of Local Government That Mandates, Regulates, Orders, or Requires Any Terms or Conditions of Employment for Any Employer, Their Commissioners, Directors, Managers, Employees…Located in Lane County,” in effect rendering Eugene’s possible ordinance ineffective.

The Board has scheduled a second reading, public hearing, deliberation and possible action for 9 am on Monday July 21 2014.

I am anxious to hear comments.  Please forward any comments you may have to me at pat.farr@co.lane.or.us 

 

 

Sick leave for everyone? by Pat Farr

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Paid sick leave

I am going to make some assumptions about the way people operate, based upon the standards I would like to adhere to in my life:

1.            They have a job that they either love or need and they  want to do it the best that it can be done.

2.            They  care about the people they work with, around and for and do not want to cause them discomfort or place them at unnecessary risk.

3.            They  do not like to be ill.

Allowing for days off while sick should be a fundamental part of an employer’s terms of agreement with employees.

Clearly an ill staff member is not going to perform his or her duty in a manner to the standard their peers expect and need, that  their employer feels is needed for the work to be completed at standard, or significantly to the level that customers demand and deserve.

Just as clearly, the risk of infection spreading to the men women and children that an ill person comes into contact with is a risk that should not be taken.  To that same end, Lane County’s Community Health Improvement Plan calls for inoculation and vaccination levels to be increased to produce “herd immunity” and to prevent outbreak of communicable diseases.  Workers who are go to work while ill are directly opposed to the Health Improvement Plan’s basic tenets.

The first option for an ill worker, in order to avoid substandard work or potential wide spread health threat, is to stay home.  For all involved, that  is nearly always the preferred option—whether you are a coworker, employer or customer.

Ignoring these threats leaves a working poor person with a second choice that is not good.  In the case of workers who lose pay while staying home to prevent outbreak, substandard job performance or customer dissatisfaction the choice is untenable:  “Do I lose money from my paycheck or do I expose others to unacceptable risk?”

The choice might seem clear to those among us who do not rely on every penny earned to pay the rent, put gas in the car, buy antihistamines or feed our children.  Take home less pay and sacrifice something that we enjoy, perhaps, or something that is not necessary to meet our basic needs.  Stay home and get better at the same time making sure that we are not causing others we work around to be at risk or be unable to do our job the way we would like to do it.

Those among us who have work that covers our bills have many choices in our lives that we hold dear.  We can buy presents for our loved ones.  We can wear stylish clothing.  We can buy medication that keeps our noses from running.  We can go to the coast or up the river for a day or a weekend.  These are but a few areas we have choices in every day.

But I regularly think about those among us whose paycheck either does not cover the bills or just barely does so without allowing for choices such as an extra cup of coffee, dessert or a mini-vacation—the working poor.  There are thousands of people that you may see daily that suffer far beyond illness if they lose pay by missing work for illness.

I believe that there is an obligation to help the working poor who we live alongside, whose children attend school with our children.  The working poor, we should assume, would like to buy a new pair of shoes for their child, or not face eviction or have their electricity shut off, or want to make sure their kids don’t go through the day hungry during the summer when schools aren’t providing meals.  People who need to have a sense of security that they aren’t going to even further lower their standard of living by missing a day of work.

Employers should be encouraged to find a way to help themselves while fostering a level of security in daily needs that everybody in this country should have.

Immediately, I consider the potential abuse of paid sick leave that becomes possible.  The possibility of people staying home just because they didn’t get enough sleep.  Or staying home because they just don’t feel like working today.

But those risks are present even without paid sick leave.  Those are disciplinary issues that an employer should have a plan to deal with.  That is a symptom of a bad worker issue that becomes part of the standard disciplinary process.

I think about people who have worked for me and how well I have always wanted to care for them, by offering benefits beyond a paycheck.  By offering a productive and supportive work environment.  I think that I should not be told how to run my business.  Of course I shouldn’t be told how to run my business.  I should be able to operate my business in a way that is sustainable for me, my staff and my customers.

But then I also think that making certain that I am not placing myself at risk, or placing my staff or my customers at risk is the way I want to run my business.  I do not want employees who are sick jeopardizing their own health or others they work with.

That being said, the city of Eugene’s ordinance reaches too far the way it is written.  Relying on administrative rules to cover the stretch beyond the boundaries of the city’s jurisdiction is not a risk that Lane County should assume.  Jurisdictions operating on ever diminishing general fund dollars, using revenue streams produced by taxes, cannot afford for their expenses to be increased by other jurisdictions.  Such increases in expenses, however small, cannot be absorbed and therefore result in a reduction of services.

To that end, the Board of County Commissioners have a duty to protect and preserve its resources and cannot rely on speculative administrative rules of another jurisdiction for assurance.

 

 

New Eugene City Hall

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Do you approve or disapprove of the City of Eugene building a new City Hall?

For complete poll results, click here.

City Buying Civic Stadium Approval

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

Do you approve or disapprove of the Eugene School District 4J selling Civic Stadium to the City of Eugene?

For complete poll results, click here.

Proposed County/City Land Exchange

Friday, June 27th, 2014

Do you support or oppose the City of Eugene and Lane County exchanging land in order to allow for a year-round farmers’ market in downtown Eugene?

For complete poll results, click here.