Metro Chamber revamps advocacy efforts with new coalition

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Sacramento Metro Chamber introduces new advocacy coalition Sacramento Business JournalThe Sacramento Metro Chamber plans to ramp up its political advocacy efforts in 2016 with a rebranded coalition that includes more statewide groups.

The new coalition, called Keep Sacramento Working, came together this year for the minimum-wage fight at Sacramento City Hall. Chris Worden, the chamber’s vice president of public policy, said he wants to keep the group going. One reason is that unions nationally are taking political fights into cities that were previously debated at state and federal levels.

Keep Sacramento Working also represents the reformation of the Sacramento Business Coalition, an “associations of business associations” for the capital region. Prior to the leadership turnover at the Chamber that occurred about a year ago, the business coalition was a loosely-affiliated group that operated without a chairman or regular meeting schedule.

Minimum wage reinvigorated the need for strong regional business advocacy, Worden said, and the Chamber views Keep Sacramento Working as an appropriate vehicle to build upon.

The coalition includes statewide business associations like the California Restaurant Association, community assessment districts like the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, and local chambers of commerce. It plans to come together whenever policy issues issue the call for a unified business voice, he said.

“We came in with a new team and we wanted to take a critical issue and create a new brand,” Worden said. “The philosophy is to not be afraid to take controversial positions when necessary. You’ve seen that in the whole minimum wage fight.”

That said, the group will not dispatch “knee-jerk reactions” to policy issues, Worden said. “It has to be deliberative and unify with the businesses community,” he said.

The issue of raising Sacramento’s minimum wage is not going away. In November 2016, voters could have four separate minimum wage measures on the ballot. Two locally-led initiatives and two statewide measures are now being considered by organized labor and community groups.

Local labor leaders also are privately discussing the possibility of bringing two other issues to the city of Sacramento that have previously been fought at the state level: increasing mandatory paid sick leave days for workers, and penalizing employers for changing employee work schedules without advance notice.

Keep Sacramento Working arrives amid the emergence of another Sacramento business advocacy group that is also in expansion mode. Region Business, the former Region Builders, is currently setting up political action committees for a slate of different local industries, and aims to be a formidable voice for political advocacy next year.

Worden from the Chamber said the reorganization of Region Business has not affected the Chamber’s policy plans or its membership numbers. He said the two groups would complement each other. “Having another organization that is advocating for business in the region is not a bad thing,” he said.

Source: Sacramento Business Journal

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