Steve Baas, the government affairs director for the Milwaukee big business association has been a vocal mouthpiece for his special interests and against the effort in Milwaukee to require paid sick day benefits. He has fought allowing more than 120,000 hard-working Milwaukee citizens to earn modest paid sick leave benefits, even though he was not shy about collecting a whole lot more when he had a job at the state legislature. While there from 1994 to 2005, Steve Baas accumulated 150 full sick days totaling nearly 1,250 hours. Baas used one-third of those taxpayer-financed sick days as an aide to Assembly Republicans such as convicted former Speaker Scott Jensen.
If Steve Baas is so opposed to paid sick days for Milwaukee workers perhaps he should return the 51 days of sick pay that taxpayers footed for him while he was working in the state legislature. Anything short of paying back taxpayers would be the height of hypocrisy. Baas received a much more generous paid sick day benefit from taxpayers than the one that he is fighting now. Apparently he feels that the same hard working taxpayers in Milwaukee that were helping pay for his benefits don’t deserve even a small portion of them.
The independent, non-partisan Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) has determined that allowing all Milwaukee employees to earn paid sick leave would be a $15 million benefit to local Milwaukee companies and reduce the spread of illness in the workplace. The study also showed that half of workers who have paid sick days take none of those days in a given year, unlike Steven Baas who took an average of five full paid sick days per year. IWPR also found letting workers earn paid sick days creates a more stable and profitable business climate, as well as greater economic stability and consistency from employees; fewer workers being fired; improved workplace morale; and reduced cost to taxpayers from public assistance for workers who are let go due to inadequate sick leave.
Think back to every benefit or requirement, from workplace safety regulations to workman’s compensation to the forty hour work week. Take your pick and big business interests have always complained about them and inevitably forecasted the end of business and the mass elimination of jobs. It is quite possibly one of the oldest talking points in our nation’s history, despite the fact that it is always proven false. So it is not really a surprise that big business interests are attacking the idea of requiring paid sick days for all people working in Milwaukee. What may be a bit of a surprise is their chosen mouthpiece having so thoroughly enjoyed his own benefit on the taxpayer’s dime while now fighting it for many of those same hardworking taxpayers.