Mayor Nutter Vetoes Earned Sick Time Bill

On June 28th, Mayor Michael Nutter vetoed the Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces Bill. As we have reported before , the bill would have required businesses to allow their workers to earn an hour of paid sick time for every 40 hours worked—up to 7 days a year of earned sick time for businesses with 11 or more employees and up to 4 days of paid sick time per year for businesses with 10 or fewer employees.  “Mom and Pop” businesses with 5 or fewer employees would be exempt.

The mayor argued that the bill, if passed, would be bad for businesses in the city. He stated that he supports paid sick time in general, but thinks that a bill requiring it must be passed at the state or federal level to have the right effect. There are currently no federal requirements for paid sick leave.

Mayor Nutter’s veto of the bill revolved around the idea that, if it passed, businesses would suffer and therefore the city would also suffer as a result of a decreased number of jobs after businesses leave or downsize. These arguments are similar to those made by Philadelphia’s Chamber of Commerce. However, as we noted previously, the reasoning behind this logic is faulty. Lonnie Golden, a professor of economics and labor studies at Penn State- Abington, and Stephen Herzenberg, an economist with the Keystone Research Center, argued that in fact “paid sick days are good for business and the community, as well as for families” and that the arguments of the Chamber of Commerce and the Nutter administration are based on “inflated estimates.”

The next step in the effort to ensure that workers can stay home when they are ill or must take care of someone who is ill is to get the City Council to override Nutter’s veto. Marianna Bellesorte, Senior Policy Director at PathWays PA, an organization which is a member of the Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces, said that “the Coalition plans to work with City Council to do everything possible to make an override a reality…We will continue to fight for paid sick days until all Philadelphians have access to a minimum standard of time.” She said that the Coalition is “disappointed that the Mayor is ignoring the wishes of 71% of Philadelphians who support paid sick days, not to mention the 200,000 workers who need paid sick days in the city of Philadelphia.”

However, getting the Council to overturn the mayor’s veto “could be a daunting task.” The bill only passed the Council by a 9-8 margin and one of the “yea” votes was cast by “Councilman Bill Green, who opposed paid sick leave, but supported the bill in a deal to prevent the mayor’s soda tax from passing.” To override a bill’s veto, 12 votes in favor of the override are required. Luckily, advocates have the summer to get more support for the bill in the Council since it will not meet again until September 8th.

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