Sick-time bill declared dead in City Council

Posted: April 12, 2013

MAYOR NUTTER'S veto will stick for a bill that would have required certain Philly employers to give workers paid sick time off.

City Councilman Bill Greenlee, who sponsored the bill, said during Council's session Thursday that he was one vote shy of the 12 votes needed to override Nutter's veto.

"I apologize to the 180,000 workers in Philadelphia that I could not get this done for them," Greenlee said, adding that one day "Philadelphia will have paid sick days."

It was Greenlee's second attempt at getting the measure to become law after Nutter first shot the bill down in 2011. Despite a push by advocates and union leaders such as John Dougherty, business manager of Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the six Councilmen who voted against the bill four weeks ago - Mark Squilla, Brian O'Neill, Denny O'Brien, Jim Kenney, David Oh and Bill Green - remained unmoved.

"We just hit them with three real estate tax increases in a row, we have AVI crushing small businesses, we have the use-and-occupancy tax we raised 20 percent last year . . . now mandatory sick leave?" said Squilla. "That's too much for them to swallow."

Nutter and some businesses leaders said the bill would hurt businesses and jobs. Advocates and workers who the bill would benefit said it would help reduce the spread of illnesses.

Under the bill, employers with six to 20 workers would be required to provide four paid sick days a year, and larger businesses would have to provide seven days. Mom-and-pop stores would be exempt. Interns, nonregular employees, and state and federal employees would be excluded.

As an alternative, some Council members and the Chamber of Commerce have tossed up the idea of offering tax credits to businesses that offer paid sick leave. Greenlee, who said he's "not feeling that one," questioned what the cost would be to the city.

Despite the defeat in Philadelphia, New York City became the latest large city last month to mandate that businesses provide paid sick leave. Other areas with similar measures include Portland, Ore., San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

So, will Greenlee try his luck a third time? "We'll see," he said.

In other news, Council's Committee on Labor and Civil Service advanced a measure sponsored by Kenney that would provide tax credits to businesses that offer health benefits to same-sex partners. Also, under the bill all new or renovated city buildings must have gender-neutral bathrooms.


On Twitter: @Jan_Ransom

Blog: PhillyClout.com

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