A couple months ago I asked "Could Washington Be the Next Wisconsin?," comparing 2012 GOP gubernatorial frontrunner Rob McKenna to the Badger State's profoundly anti-labor Gov. Scott Walker, a thesis that many of McKenna's admirers in our local media scoffed at. But it's a resemblance that's all the more striking in light of the two conservative Republicans' recent actions on the issue of paid sick leave.
Yesterday, Gov. Walker burnished his anti-worker reputation, signing a Republican sponsored bill that preempts Milwaukee's paid sick leave law, a popular measure that had been approved via referendum in 2008 by nearly 70 percent of local voters. Walker's bill prohibits local governments from passing ordinances guaranteeing paid sick and family leave, but was clearly targeted at Democratic Milwaukee, which was the only city in the state to have passed such an ordinance, and one of only three cities nationwide, including Washington D.C. and San Francisco.
As it turns out, Seattle may soon become the fourth US city to mandate paid sick leave, with an ordinance to that effect soon to be introduced before the City Council. Currently, more than 40 percent of Seattle workers get no paid sick leave benefits at all, creating a hardship on workers and their families, and a public health risk for those customers with whom these workers come in contact... a status quo McKenna now says he adamantly supports.
Speaking to the Seattle Restaurant Alliance this week, as reported on the Washington Restaurant Association's own website, the state Attorney General even offered his office's assistance in opposing Seattle's proposed paid sick leave proposal:
[Y]ou’ve certainly got your work cut out for you in Olympia, not to mention in Seattle now with this new proposal for mandatory paid sick leave,” McKenna told the group, explaining that he would explore the possibility of his office’s assistance.
“We’ll look at it, and see if there’s some way we can help reinforce the WRA’s position, maybe by asking them to withdraw the proposed rulemaking.”
[...] McKenna urged the operators to take a coalition approach in responding to the the sick leave proposal, recommending that the industry “get big fast” by linking arms with other employers and demonstrating how this idea could be detrimental to the city’s economy.
It's a position entirely consistent with McKenna's anti-worker resume, but what should be most alarming to local voters is McKenna's eagerness to use his state office to interfere with local, Seattle policy. It's not enough for Republicans like Walker and McKenna to deny workers rights and benefits at the state level; given the chance they'll do whatever they can to prevent local governments and local voters from filling the gap and taking care of their own.
Voters here in Seattle need to remember this in 2012, or suffer the inevitable consequences of an anti-worker/anti-Seattle McKenna administration.