Poll Finds 77 Percent of Philly Supports Paid Sick Days
City Council has until Thursday to find the 12th vote which would override Mayor Michael Nutter’s veto of the latest paid sick days bill, which passed through City Council by a vote of 11-6. In light of that, supporters held a rally in front of City Hall yesterday afternoon urging at least one of the six City Council members who voted against the bill to come around.
“I remember calling the mother of a high school student who had a fever who was at work, and she said, ‘Sorry, I can’t come, I’ll lose my job if I leave work,’” noted Diane Mohney, a former Philadelphia school nurse who came out to support paid sick days. “It’s a horrible position to be in. You know that if a parent without sick leave loses a day of work, that’s a pair of shoes for somebody in the family, it’s a bill that doesn’t get paid.”
The paid sick leave bill which Council passed would have allowed hourly workers without earned sick time to earn at least one hour for every 40 hours worked—with a maximum of 56 hours for businesses with 20 or more employees and 32 hours for smaller companies, with Mom and Pop businesses with five or less employees exempt. The bill would also allow that employee to take off if they or a family member are sick. This is the second time the bill has come around and the second time Mayor Nutter vetoed it, in spite of the issue’s popularity.
Public Policy Polling, a left-leaning research firm based out of North Carolina, found an overwhelming 77 percent of Philadelphians support an override of Nutter’s veto—including 84 percent of women and 93 percent of Hispanic voters. The poll was conducted over the weekend and included 590 Philadelphia voters. It reflects similar numbers in other cities who’ve been asked about the issue.
“When people are sick, they need to stay home and take care of themselves,” said Sue Clements, nurse at Temple Episcopal. “When people come to work sick, they get sicker, they end up in the emergency room where they’re treated, and that is a tremendous drain to the system and it doesn’t need to happen.”
Those against paid sick days often point to a number of issues — budgeting, competition, the economy — for their opposition. Hundreds of phone calls have gone into several Councilmembers who voted ‘no’ the first time around. Jan Ransom of the Philadelphia Daily News reported yesterday that Councilman at-Large Dennis O’Brien is a prime target for paid sick leave supporters. O’Brien, a former member of the Pennsylvania Legislature, was well-known for often joining Democrats on numerous issues, and for advocating for children with disabilities and autism—both of whom were highlighted at the press conference.
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