Nutter’s Paid Sick Leave Decision is Nigh

Mayor Nutter has until tomorrow to make a decision on earned paid sick leave for workers in Philadelphia.

On March 14, City Council passed an earned sick leave bill by an 11-6 vote. The bill, introduced by Councilman Bill Greenlee, would allow workers without paid sick time to earn one hour for every 40 hours worked. It has a history of controversy amongst some of the city’s business community.

“We have one of the highest unemployment rates in America and this bill will not create one new job for one citizen in this city,” said Ron Wonderling, president of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, when the bill passed. The Chamber lobbied against the bill.

Nutter vetoed a similar bill back in 2011. That bill, also offered by Greenlee, passed Council by a 9-8 margin but was vetoed by Nutter. If and when Nutter vetoes the current incarnation of the bill, it will not have enough votes for an override, assuming the same councilmembers vote as they did on March 14. Twelve votes are needed to veto a mayoral veto in Philadelphia.

Marianne Bellesorte of Pathways PA, a group that both advocated and lobbied for the paid sick days bill, says the work isn’t done when and if Mayor Nutter vetoes the legislation.

“When a family is working, they’re doing their best to support themselves economically,” says Bellesorte, “and missing even one day because of a cold, for having to take a child to the doctor, to the hospital, could be enough for that family to not be able to pay the rent, to not pay their electric bill, and just generally put them in financial difficulties.”

Bellesorte says she plans to make sure the potential veto is overridden.

“We will, of course talk to all the Councilmembers who voted ‘no’ on the bill back on March 14th and talk to them about fighting for Philly families, which we really hoped the mayor would do, as well,” she notes. “We’d like to be in a position to do a veto override by April 11th.”

Last week, I wrote in a piece for Salon that paid sick leave was quickly becoming the new “liberal litmus test.” A number of prominent Democrats across the country—including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Center for American Progress Head John Podesta—have recently begun embracing the idea. New York City’s Council will likely vote on a bill this year (after years of pressure to do so) and a number of other cities, including Portland, Oregon; Seattle; and San Francisco already have a law in place.

Paid sick leave advocates have continued putting pressure on Philadelphia Councilpeople who voted ‘no’ on the bill, especially Jim Kenney and Mark Squilla, the former of whom claimed he was “almost there” on the legislation in the fall.

Follow Randy on Twitter: @RandyLoBasso

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