Small businesses are a lot of what makes Portland such a special place to live. These businesses, many of which are locally owned and operated, contribute to the vibrant and diverse Portland economy. They provide quality jobs, boost tourism to the city and give locals an alternative to big-box stores.

I own one of these businesses – Sisters Deli – so I have also developed an appreciation of how much hard work these small businesses demand.

That’s why I am writing to oppose Mayor Ethan Strimling’s proposed paid sick leave mandate – which is not only bad policy but also comes at the worst possible time for Portland businesses. I oppose this mandate for three main reasons.

Blanket laws don’t work. It should be up to the employer to decide when their employees start earning benefits. Portland is in a supreme labor shortage, and City Hall should let the market fight for good staff.

Mandating that paid sick leave begins accruing immediately flies in the face of reason. Especially when it comes to hiring younger or higher-risk workers, businesses should have the prerogative to institute an appropriate waiting period.

 The mandate stipulates that employees do not need to provide notice of sick leave. This will put good workers in the position of being disadvantaged by the bad ones. Good workers will then get burned out from the extra work and will also take advantage of sick days. This will ultimately lead to loss of product that will affect sales and, in turn, small-business sustainability, allowing only larger companies to survive.

I like to think the mayor’s proposal is well-intended. But given that small-business owners like myself were shut out of its drafting process, and the mandate would strip power from folks like me, it came out as bad policy.

Michaela McVetty


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