Less than a month after becoming the 20th municipal ordinance in the country to guarantee paid sick leave to workers, Philadelphia’s “Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces” measure is coming under attack by a bill moving through the Republican-controlled state legislature this session.
The Healthy Families Act has been introduced in Congress every year since 2004, and every year it has failed to gain traction. But advocates for the bill think that this is their year, and they have some reason to be optimistic.
The lack of paid sick time available across the country means that if a worker needs time to address reproductive health needs—including prenatal or abortion care—she may have to risk her livelihood or her paycheck to do so.
“It’s time we stop treating child care as a side issue, or a women’s issue, and treat it like the national economic priority that it is for all of us,” Obama said Tuesday night.
The president signed an executive order to give federal employees up to six weeks of paid family leave after the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a new child.
Two Pennsylvania state senators on Wednesday said they would introduce legislation prohibiting municipalities from enacting paid leave protections for workers, a direct response to a long-standing effort in Philadelphia to give employees paid sick leave.
The American Legislative Exchange Council laid out its blueprint for 2015 at its annual meeting in early December, making public a plan that includes attacks on labor unions, paid sick leave, and minimum wage increases that have proven popular across the political spectrum.
“I thought the sick day ordinance could become an excuse for my servers or other employees to call in sick at the last minute and leave shifts unstaffed,” said a San Francisco restaurant owner. “Turns out, that hasn’t been a problem at all.”
Christine Quinn’s silence was notable because she is widely perceived to be the only obstacle standing between the bill and its passage.
New York’s city council has a bill that would require paid sick days for more than 1.2 million workers. Research shows it’s an economic no-brainer. But the bill’s been stalled for more than 1,000 days, even as a natural disaster and flu epidemic hit the city.