NFIB: Eight in 10 small businesses want state to prevent patchwork of local labor laws, NFIB testifies

Contact:Bill G. Smith at (608) 255-6083

Jack Mozloom at (609) 989-8777

MADISON (March 30, 2011)– Wisconsin’s largest small business advocacy group testified today that seventy nine percent of its members favor legislation to block local governments from enacting their own labor laws.

“The overwhelming majority of small business owners in Wisconsin believe that labor laws mandated by local governments will have a negative impact on their local economy, create unfair competitive situations from one local unit of government to another, and will present complex, costly compliance challenges for employers and employees,” said NFIB State Director Bill G. Smith.

Smith testified before the Assembly Labor and Workforce Development Committee, which is considering a measure that would preclude cities and municipalities from enacting their own labor laws, such as mandatory paid sick leave. The hearing comes in the wake of a court decision last week upholding Milwaukee’s mandatory paid sick leave ordinance.

“The net result of such disparate local laws is to increase payroll costs, reduce job growth, stifle economic expansion and create competitive challenges for thousands of small business owners,” said Smith.

The Milwaukee ordinance requires paid sick leave for all employees for nine days per year. According to Smith, small businesses in the state fear that the ruling will touch off an explosion of similar ordinances across the state that will make Wisconsin a costlier, more confusing and less predictable place in which to start or run a business.

“Small business owners need maximum flexibility to manage the workplace for all their employees,” said Smith. “Costly mandates that force employers to shift benefit dollars around do not produce winners and they are usually harmful to the workers that they are intended to help.”

Smith said that with more than a thousand cities, towns and villages, the potential for a chaotic patchwork of local labor laws is very dangerous to small business and the state’s economy.

“The power to set labor policies should reside with the state government,” said Smith. “Otherwise small businesses are going to be buried beneath an avalanche of inconsistent mandates.”

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