Fight for Earned Sick Days not Over in Florida
By Denise Diaz, Central Florida Jobs with Justice
It was a sad day for democracy in Orange County on September 11th. After a 4 to 3 decision, Orange County Commissioners voted to table passing a resolution to put the Earned Sick Measure on time for the November 2012 ballot. With over 50,000 verified petitions collected and denied by County Commissioners, a clear message was sent to Orange County voters that corporate special interests can successfully undermine the democratic process.
Citizens for a Greater Orange County quickly took the matter to the courts to file an emergency court order to force the County to put it on the ballot. The Court ruled in favor of the people and the court order was granted. However, the County yet again refused to follow the court order and allow the clock to run out on the September 17th meeting.
On September 18th, supporting organizations of the Earned Sick Time measure came to mourn the death of democracy at the County Commission meeting. Dressed in black, peopled came up to the front dropping flowers while an eulogy was read.
As a reporter from the Orlando Sentinel stated the County Commission may have won the battle, but will lose the war. Doing the bidding for the Chamber of Commerce and special interests have left Commissioners in the hot seat with their constituents. New development of records of Commissioners texting to Corporate Lobbyists during the night of the vote. Sea World Orlando, Darden, and Disney lobbyists were all in a coordinated effort to coach Commissioners through voting down the measure.
This campaign made historic strides with the first ever people's lead ballot initiative in the county's history. Earned Sick Time was a rights at work measure that brought together a diverse and broad group of people. What County Commissioners did on stopping Earned Sick Time shows people how much power special interests have and willing to use to tarnish democracy. Many issues do not move passed county level and coalition partners move forward in building a broader coalition that will transform the county in 2014.