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Labor Standards Ordinance

“I don’t think this is the right decision tonight.” Stated Councilman Hal Heiner.

  “We’re not ready to tackle what a small business means” states Councilwoman Judy Green, before moving to take back part of an amendment, and then asks to take a break.

  For over one hour, the debate continued in much that fashion. Though Mrs. Green’s amendment did not get struck, there was a well-deserved twenty-minute break that did occur.

  The debate was over the Labor Standards Ordinance, sponsored by Councilman Jim King and co-sponsored by Mr. Rick Blackwell (Dem- 12th Dist.). This proposal has been the topic of much discussion in both the majority and minority caucus. It was expected to be one that was divided by partisan lines in politics, and by ideological lines in public.

  As much as this proposal was a topic of conversation in council, it was also in various other realms of business and politics previous to the council meeting. Rumors were that the mayor’s office really did not support the proposal for they felt that it would negatively effect business from looking at Louisville as a positive place to come. After various attempts, those rumors could not be confirmed, but they certainly would match what various groups, from Greater Louisville, Inc. to small businesses were stating as an opposition to the proposal.

  Interestingly enough, the characters that have enjoyed their political campaigns supported by individuals within, and labor unions themselves, were in the midst of battling for the proposal. Some of the council members, such as Rick Blackwell, were council members that had and have seen great progress and growth in their district. Others, such as Bob Henderson, (Dem.- 14th Dist.), had not seen much growth, but had some projects planned and on the way. They believed that it was necessary to keep the ordinance proposal as is. This ordinance would ensure the wage of the union worker as well as other variables pertaining to the structure of, and the payment of the contracted company. This, along with the specific number of employees that one must have to consider a business a “small business”, between 15-50, and if these employees were to be full-time, part-time, or seasonal employees was the basis of the discussion that lasted over one hour.

  After break, Councilman Brent Ackerson commented with various decisions that included sending it back to committee, to which Mr. Jim King was quick to dismiss stating that it had been in committee for a couple of months, and stated that it was up to the council to determine what the definition of small business is, in an attempt to quiet the discussion that the proposal did not adequately define what a small business is. He also mentioned that the answer to Mr. Hal Heiner’s statement that no other city in Kentucky that has an ordinance of this type is that no other city is like Louisville. The discussion continued, and continued, and continued.

  Councilman Kelly Downard (Rep.- 16th Dist.) pointed out that to define a small business after the passing was “bad government”. This statement of his came right after he pointed out that the number of individuals that work for a company that did a bid for a job would be apt to change in the middle of the season, thus making it more difficult to oversee that all workers are recipients of the wage. Councilman Kevin Kramer followed up these statements by stating “just because we get to write the law it is not best to define the meaning after the passing of the law.” 

  President of the Council David Tandy eventually did state that the council was starting to hear from the same individuals that had been speaking. He stated that if there was nothing new, then they would need to vote with what they had before them or they would have to continue on with something new. More clarifications and explanations continued after that,. It was back and forth, forth and back again.

  Confusion all around occurred in council, all because of a Labor Standard proposal, an opportunity that certain members of the majority caucus took to determine how one is to control their business when they are applying for, and working for a government contract. The confusion began in council with the bill sponsored by Mr. Jim King, and it stayed in council, including after Mr. King agreed with, and then disagreed to go with an amendment by Mr. Hal Heiner that dealt with the employee hours.

  The squabble continued until after 1 a.m. when the Labor Standards Ordinance was passed along strictly partisan lines with all sixteen Democrats voting for the amendment. This amendment is guaranteed to help labor unions, and personnel, which have assisted in funding the campaigns of many Democrats, and few Republicans on the council. Mayor Jerry Abramson has stated that he will look at the amendment before deciding if he will veto the ordinance.

  Mayor Abramson has worked hard in an attempt to bring business to the city, including trips oversees to promote Louisville as a place that is business friendly. Various groups are now afraid that work may have limited, if any affect on Louisville should the amendment go forth as it is.

May 15, 2009 - Posted by | Proposed Ordinances | , , , ,

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