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Condon Challenges ‘Worker Bill of Rights’ Validity

Only one citizen’s initiative has qualified for the November election, but a court challenge prompted by Mayor David Condon yesterday (Monday) seeks to keep it off the ballot. He says one issue is the city’s authority to enforce it, but opponents say he’s playing into political pressure.

The Worker Bill of Rights is proposed by Envision Spokane. It would enforce four rights: right to a family wage when employed by a large company, right to equal pay, freedom from wrongful termination, and a fourth contentious right that makes corporate powers subordinate to people’s rights.

All initiatives get an opinion from the hearing examiner, and in this case he wrote that the corporations section “exceeded the jurisdictional limits of the initiative power.” Condon says that opinion is the source of his challenge.

Condon: “He determined that the city lacked legislative authority to reduce federl or state constitutional rights, or otherwise enact laws that conflict with their laws. And so, that’s in essence the issue.”

The initiative says if a corporation violates the worker bill of rights, it should not have the power to challenge the bill in court like a person would. Envision Spokane spokesperson Kai Huschke said in a statement the Mayor is challenging the constitutional rights of citizens to use the initiative process.

Condon says he supports the initiative process but this measure threatens the power of city government.

Condon: “This takes into account any organization that has a corporate designation, so most of your non-profits are corporations, your hospitals, your universities, and then in the case of the city it negates the standing of… city government, in the court system.”

Condon’s opponent in the mayoral race, SharLichty, doesn’t mince words in opposing the challenge by Condon.

Lichty: “Well it’s a lawsuit against the citizens as I see it, not so much Envision. It’s a barrier, and a violation of allowing the democratic process to happen… I’m looking at the timing of it, pressure coming from people who have endorsed and donated to his campaign, putting pressure on him to block this from going forward to the ballot, which is blocking the people’s voice.”

Lichty says if she were mayor now she would let the worker bill of rights go to the ballot and let the people decide.

Condon’s challenge is on behalf of the city of Spokane, against Envision Spokane and the auditor’s office. It seeks to put an injunction on the measure and prohibit it from going before voters.

No court date has been announced.

Copyright 2015 Spokane Public Radio

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