City Council Fails to Override Nutter’s Paid Sick Leave Veto
Councilman Bill Greenlee, the prime sponsor of the paid sick leave legislation in City Council, did not bring up a vote to override Mayor Nutter’s veto this morning—and apologized to the city for failing on the issue.
“I will not be calling for an override of Mayor Nutter’s veto concerning the paid sick leave bill because we are one vote short of making this,” he said in Council chambers, “one vote short of making this law in Philadelphia.”
Today was the last day for Philadelphia City Council to override Mayor Nutter’s veto of the paid sick leave legislation, which passed on March 14 by a vote of 11-6. Twelve votes were needed to make it law in the boundaries of Philadelphia. The bill would have allowed workers without paid sick leave to earn one hour for every 40 hours worked, with a maximum of 56 hours leave per year for employees of large companies; and 32 hours for small companies, with “Mom and Pop” businesses exempt.
“I apologize to 180,000 workers in Philadelphia who, I could not get this done for them,” Greenlee continued. “Philadelphia will have paid sick days in the future. It’s just a shame we won’t be at the forefront.”
Paid sick leave is already law in several cities around the country, including San Francisco, Seattle and Portland. It will likely pass in New York City this year. Several prominent members of the national Democratic party have expressed support of the idea, too.
This was the second time Greenlee has fought for the bill, the first time being in 2011, when it passed 9-8 and was also vetoed by Nutter. Despite failing to get through Council, a new poll done by Public Policy Polling found that 77 percent of Philadelphians supported an override of the veto.
“What do you say about the Philadelphia Democratic Party?” rhetorically asked Fabricio Rodriguez, head of the Philadelphia Restaurant Opportunities Center, after the announcement of failure to override. He noted the problem, as he sees it is “an issue of the composition of our city government,” since three Democratic members and three Republicans would not vote for the bill.
Joe Grace, director of public policy for the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, said his group’s opposition was mostly about competition.
“This legislation, all along, is the wrong bill at the wrong time, given where the economy is in the city right now,” he told PW after the announcement. “Ten-point-six percent unemployment. We felt this was a signal about competitiveness for Philadelphia business vis-a-vis the suburbs that was going to be, potentially, a harmful signal.”
“That’s an excuse,” said Sheila Maddali, a researcher and policy coordinator for Philly ROC. “We’ve changed the discourse now. Paid sick days is something that is a really – it’s happening around the nation and in Philadelphia. I think we really contributed to that.”
Rodriguez noted sluggish economy or not, he doesn’t think there will ever be a good time for business interests on paid sick leave. “Let them put it on the calendar and tell them to pinpoint it. That day will never come,” he said. “They’re not going to deal with it.”
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