These prophecies make for good talk radio and a quick blogpost. But they bear little reality to the workaday world. Where, the Brawler suspects, there will be some initial grumbling but life will go on as before.
Let's take the sick-day mandate. As the Brawler's noted before, SanFrancisco has continued to add jobs since it enacted a mandate and there's no sign that jobs have leaked to the neighboring areas. And that's not surprising. Why? While the business lobby and Sykes like to portray the mandate as 9 days of vacation, the fact of the matter is that workers use sick days sparingly. Workers use an average of 1.8 sick days annually, according to a study buried at the bottom of a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story from September (numbers which appeared nowhere in the subsequent debate). Half of all employees don't take a sick day in a year. People take sick days, generally speaking, when they or their kids are sick. (The fact Sykes goes on about "9 more days off" says more about him than regular folks.)
In that light, it's clear that the six-figure damages businesses claim they'll take from the mandate are fantasy.
Jim Lazarus, the senior vice president of public policy for the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, said more than 90 percent of member businesses already offered sick-leave policies so the new law didn't change much.
He agreed with Barrett that such measures should be implemented at the state or federal level, although "I can't imagine this burden would be at such a level that a business would relocate based on that."
Indeed, neither does the Brawler. Here's a few reasons beyond the fact that the financial hit would be vastly below the doomsday figures touted by business.
Moving is a time-consuming, disruptive and expensive pain in the ass. The Brawler has never met a businessowner who has moved before absolutely necessary -- and sometimes not even then. The Brawler suspects most business owners would rather figure out how to live with the new reg than move.
Changing location can cost you employees. If you move from BayView to Washington County you're going to lose employees. Moreover, the Milwaukee labor pool is vastly larger than in the surrounding area.
Changing location can cost you customers. If a business suddenly becomes less convenient, or if it takes longer for its people to reach a customer, that's something the competition will notice -- and try to capitalize on.
Costs. From labor to real estate, a business relocating from the city to the burbs could find itself dealing with a higher cost structure. Which could negate the benefit of running away from the sick day mandate.
The long arm of big gummint. Today Milwaukee, tomorrow...what? The state? The country?Who knows? But clearly there is a movement afoot to require businesses to treat their employees like human beings and not fire them if they have to take care of a sick kid. So what' the point of running from a sick-day mandate if ultimately the sick-day mandate will find you?
As for the sales tax killing the retail environment here? Please.
No one is going to burn gas and time to drive to Racine to save $2 on a $200 purchase; I doubt anyone will drive 5 miles out of their way for that. The Target in, say, Grafton, is not going to suddenly be inundated by tax avoiders who previously patronized Milwaukee County Targets. And speaking of big boxes, the arrayof shopping options in Milwaukee is far and away superior to what you find in the surrounding counties. (And I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for Pabst Farms to open up, either.) People are going to continue to come in to the county to shop -- just as the come into the county to work -- because they can get things here they can't in, say, Muskego.
If the county executive were not an empty suit ginning up yet another failed gubernatorial run on a platform of "fiscal conservatism," this would be a non-issue beyond the ranters on the radio.