Chamber Reports on Final Mandatory PTO Stakeholder Meeting

Chamber Reports on Final Mandatory PTO Stakeholder Meeting

The Mandatory Paid Time Off (PTO) stakeholder group met for the third of its three meetings last night at the Ward 2 offices of Council Member Paul Cunningham.  In December, the Tucson Metro Chamber Board of Directors voted to strongly oppose the Mandatory PTO proposal advanced by Ward 1 Council Member Regina Romero.

Tucson Metro Chamber Vice President of Government Affairs Robert Medler was one of several representatives of the business community on the 14-member panel.  President and CEO Mike Varney read and submitted a prepared statement at the meeting (see below).

Proponents of the City of Tucson enacting an ordinance to set new labor law requirements that transcend federal and state requirements already in place advanced some arguments that ought to be a wake-up call for every business owner in the City.

  • One proponent equated small business owners with slave owners in the old South.
  • Another insisted that businesses will not be adversely affected and will not consider moving outside of the City of Tucson if the ordinance is passed despite opponents’ citing actual examples of companies already cancelling plans to open their doors in Tucson as a result of the Mandatory PTO proposal.
  • Still another proponent reminded the overflow audience and the stakeholder committee that the City Council is comprised of only Democrats and that Democrats do what big labor tells them to do.
  • And finally, there was the argument that the Mandatory PTO proposal is “just one or two percent” of added expense exposure for small businesses, completely ignoring that the “it’s just” argument has resulted in layers and layers of government intrusion and regulatory compliance that business already must meet.  (“It’s just one or two percent” over and over again results in a LOT of expense and regulatory compliance.)

City of Tucson officials recorded the comments of the audience and the stakeholder group for referral to the city manager’s office.  The city manager’s office will then compile the comments and make a recommendation to the City Council for possible further action.

Now is the time for you to take action. It’s important that YOU as a business leader take the time to contact your City Council representative and tell them this proposal will damage Tucson’s economy and could hurt your business.

Mayor Jonathan Rothschild (520) 791-4201
WARD 1 Regina Romero (520) 791-4040
WARD 2 Paul Cunningham (520) 791-4687
WARD 3 Karin Uhlich (520) 791-4711
WARD 4 Shirley Scott (520) 791-3199
WARD 5 Richard Fimbres (520) 791-4231
WARD 6 Steve Kozachick (520) 791-4601

To locate your ward, click here.

Earned Sick and Safe Time information and notes



My name is Michael Varney.  I am the president of the Tucson Metro Chamber, the largest and most influential business organization representing 1,485 employers in Pima County and their 130,000 employees.  The vast majority of those employers are in the City of Tucson.

In my nearly five years of service to the Tucson Metro Chamber and the Tucson metro area I can say that no proposal by City government has elicited the level of opposition and passion for defeat as the proposal before us tonight.

Tucson is a community with an overabundance of poverty and a need for jobs to end the cycle of poverty for our citizens.  Our local economy is not recovering from the Great Recession as fast as the state or the country.  As a community we should be making an all-out effort to promote job creation, not make job creation more difficult.

Historically, the City of Tucson has espoused its belief in the value of inclusion and diversity.  It is interesting to note that when this proposal was first brought to the City Council it was done without any notice to the business community it would affect.  So much for diversity and inclusion.

Local employers are telling us many things about the City’s proposal to mandate paid time off:

  • First, employers are already going to great lengths to care for their employees and offer paid time off on their terms.
  • Second, small businesses do not have the time or the resources to add yet another layer of regulatory compliance to their operations.
  • Third, many businesses that operate on razor thin margins face scenarios of possible closure of their operations if added expenses are heaped on them.
  • Fourth, employers who have leases coming due have informed us that they will move their operations out of the City into neighboring communities if this proposal is enacted.

In the very few cities where this kind of onerous public policy has been made into law it has been the pattern of big labor to follow mandatory paid time off ordinances with a proposal to increase the minimum wage.  The Tucson Metro Chamber recently polled local employers on the question of mandatory paid time off and the companion big labor bill to increase the minimum wage.  By a margin of 35:1 local employers opposed both measures.  This is a message our City leaders need to hear loud and clear.  Job creators do not want the City of Tucson interfering with their employment practices.  There are already plenty of state and federal requirements governing these matters.  And shouldn’t we be spending more time and resources on MAXIUM skills, MAXIMUM wage with MAXIMUM benefits anyway?

The City of Tucson has a $42 million structural deficit in its budget.  The majority of City revenue comes from sales taxes.  The Tucson Metro Chamber and local employers are prepared to work with the City of Tucson to help promote a stronger local economy, put more of our people back to work in well-paying jobs and boost sales tax revenues by expanding our economy.

Never forget that the best weapon in the war on poverty is a job.