PAID SICK LEAVE PASSES PHILLY COUNCIL

Philadelphia’s City Council just passed a paid sick leave bill by a 9-8 vote. Now it heads to Mayor Nutter’s desk. As I reported for Alternet on Monday:

In Philadelphia, after a series of delays for amendments, a city council vote on paid sick days is scheduled for Thursday. Mayor Michael Nutter has indicated his opposition but has not said whether he would veto the bill. This year activists built a coalition of 100 organizations to help lobby City Council and gathered 17,000 postcards which they strung around the perimeter of City Hall. Marianne Bellesorte, senior director of Policy for Pathways PA, said she expected “a tight vote” Thursday, but expressed hope that the bill would pass and that Mayor Nutter would decide against a vetoing a policy with demonstrated popular support.

Bellesorte’s hopes were echoed by Dewetta Logan, a former social worker who now directs the Smart Beginnings Early Learning Center. “A child is not to supposed to be in our care if they have certain illnesses,” she said, “but there’s nothing I can do if a parent just can’t leave” to pick a sick child up.

In a statement released this afternoon, Bellesorte hailed the passage of the bill, calling it “a common sense measure to preserve public health and promote economic security.”

Logan told me in our interview last week that she twice went to testify on behalf of the bill at City Council, and both times the chambers were packed with over 100 supporters. She said that the bill should help to reduce the unemployment created by unnecessary terminations. Ellen Bravo of Family Values @ Work echoed this point when we talked last week, saying “Bad times are the worst time to see people lose their jobs because they have a sick child.” Bravo pointed to research by economist Eileen Appelbaum showing that achieving recovery is an issue of stemming job loss as well as stimulating job creation (the Cry Wolf Project has compiled research on the policy here).

Bravo said many of the employers around the country supporting paid sick leave cite the benefits from reducing turnover costs, which can total $5,500 per new employee. Logan, a small business owner herself, suggested some owners are wary of the paid sick leave requirement because “no one likes to be told what to do,” but that “they should want to support the people who make it so they can open their doors every day.”

Mayor Nutter has not released a statement since the passage of the bill.

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