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Denver Paid Sick Days Initiative to submit triple number of signatures needed to make ballot

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In May, Denver Paid Sick Days Initiative spokeswoman Erin Bennett predicted that the measure, which would mandate paid sick days for all non-governmental workers in Denver, be they full-time or part-time employees, would strike a chord with voters. And she thinks the number of signatures her group will turn in today proves it.

"We needed just under 4,000 signatures," says Bennett, who's both the Colorado director for 9to5, the National Association of Working Women, and spokeswoman for the Campaign for a Healthy Denver. "And we'll be turning in close to three times that many, if not more."

The initiative's backers plan to make a production of today's presentation to the Denver City Clerk: Forty members of the team clad in infectious disease masks are scheduled to appear along with a couple of speakers, including a local business owner, whose presence is meant to reassure the retail community at large.

Bennett admits that she's heard "the sky-is-falling argument from people who think this is going to be bad for business -- that it's going to make businesses go under." But she feels such fears are unfounded. "If you look at some of the places where this has passed, that just hasn't been the case," she maintains. "It passed in San Francisco four years ago, and since then, the city's been named one of the best places in the world to do business, and it's seen business growth."

Indeed, she argues that the initiative is actually "good for business, because it reduces turnover and increases productivity. If you have one person who's sick and has a paid sick day, that person will stay home and get healthy, and may be able to come back to work the next day. But if they come into work sick because they have no choice, they may get five other people sick -- and even if all of them continue to work, they may only be working at half their productivity. And that hurts businesses."

The event takes place at 2 p.m. in the first floor lobby of the Denver Elections Division, 14th and Bannock.

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