Voter Suppression in Florida? Orange County Commissioners Stop Vote on Earned Sick Days
By Central Florida Jobs with Justice
Despite a Florida court’s ruling that the Orange County Commission was wrong to silence the voice of 50,000 voters by refusing to add Earned Sick Time to the November 6th ballot, Orange County Mayor, Teresa Jacobs, continues to keep the public from voting on the initiative. Jacobs, buckling to the pressure of big money interests within the Chamber of Commerce, had previously bumped it from the ballot claiming that the language was unclear. And she is now taking advantage of loopholes to stall and ultimately block a democratic vote on the measure—effectively waiting until the ballots are printed the initiative to respond to the court’s ruling.
The Earned Sick Time campaign is dedicated to winning an Earned Sick Time policy for employees working at businesses with 15 or more employees in Orange County. Each employee would get one hour of sick time for every 37 hours worked, maxing out at 56 hours of sick time a year. A worker could use that leave to take off when sick or to take time to care for a sick family member.
Central Florida Jobs with Justice joined coalition partner Organized Now in the coalition to win Earned Sick Time (also known as Paid Sick Days) for nearly a year, collecting petition signatures and talking to workers who desperately need the Initiative to pass.
“In a county as financially dependent on tourism as Orange County, with over 50 million visitors a year, having a contagious service industry is harmful,” said Denise Diaz, executive director of Central Florida Jobs with Justice. Orange County is the home of Disney and many other destination sites.
Today, community leaders, unions and others filled the Commissioners’ meeting demanding that they agree to put Earned Sick Days on the ballots—which are being printed this evening.
“If Mayor Jacobs, Commissioner Thompson and the other members of the commission intend to go through with their threats to silence voters they’re going to have to look us in the eyes when they do,” said Marlon Washington of Citizens of Greater Orange County.
At the hearing, Stephanie Porta of Organize Now, urged commissioners to follow the court’s ruling.
“Today’s the commission’s last chance to comply with the order in time for earned sick time to be placed on the November ballot. Mayor Jacobs, commissioners, I urge you to do the right thing.”
So far, the only official response from Mayor Jacob’s and her attorney has been that “…the county has 20 days to respond.”
Coalitions have been calling Commissioners noting that their refusal to put Earned Sick Time on the ballot is voter suppression, and it is leading many to wonder what else to expect this November.