City Council, Mayor Get Feedback on Proposed Sick Leave Ordinance

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Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro attended and spoke in favor of the Paid Sick Leave ordinance to members of City Council.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro attended and spoke in favor of the Paid Sick Leave ordinance to members of City Council.

The City Council chambers quickly became standing-room only Wednesday evening as nearly 300 residents, business owners, and an ex-mayor showed up for a community input session on a proposed paid sick-time ordinance.

More than 100 people signed up to share their views with Mayor Ron Nirenberg and City Council on the proposed ordinance, which would allow any employee working at least 80 hours per year in San Antonio to earn sick time from their employer.

If approved by City Council on Aug. 16 or placed on the November ballot and approved by voters, the ordinance would go into effect on Aug. 1, 2019, said City Attorney Andrew Segovia.

The first speaker was former Mayor Julián Castro, who expressed support for the paid sick time ordinance to overwhelming applause.

“What you have in front of you is an absolutely tremendous opportunity to impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of hard-working San Antonio families in a real and concrete way,” said Castro, who served as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Barack Obama. “[The ordinance] is well thought-out, it is feasible, and 75 miles up the road, it is something that Austin has already done."

Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro is applauded by supporters of the paid sick leave ordinance following his speech to City Council.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and former San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro is applauded by supporters of the paid sick leave ordinance following his speech to City Council.

What followed was nearly two hours of comments overwhelmingly supporting the ordinance. Mothers working in the service industry talked about not being able to pick up a sick child from school, and catching illnesses from co-workers who were unable to take the day off when sick. Survivors of domestic violence spoke about needing time off from work to deal with law enforcement authorities and mental health issues.

Dissenting voices came from representatives of the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and San Antonio Manufacturers Association.

Just over a dozen people spoke against the ordinance, many echoing the Hispanic Chamber’s belief that the issue should be decided by the Texas Legislature in order to level the playing field for business owners throughout the state. Some expressed concern about whether San Antonio would be viewed as “business friendly” if the ordinance passes.

Rey Chavez, president and CEO of the  San Antonio Manufacturers Association, said that while the group supports paid sick time for employees, its members do not support the ordinance as proposed, and suggested a more extensive evaluation its potential impact and effectiveness.

President of the San Antonio Manufacturers Association Rey Chavez

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

President of the San Antonio Manufacturers Association Rey Chavez

Other business owners, including small business owner Patricia Salas, said the City should not mandate additional financial strains, noting that many employers already offer some form of leave to their employees.

Ordinance supporters held firm. “If business owners think that they are doing enough – they need to know that they aren’t,” one said to loud cheers.

The allotted time for comments was cut from three minutes to two to allow everyone an opportunity to speak, and citizens spoke for nearly four hours. Mayor Ron Nirenberg cut people off when their time was up.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Nearly 300 people filled the San Antonio Council chambers on Wednesday evening for the community input meeting.

The City Clerk's office certified last week that the petition had the requisite number of valid signatures needed to be considered by City Council or placed on the ballot. The effort was led by a coalition of groups called Working Texans for Paid Sick Time.

However, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has warned Nirenberg and City Council that such an ordinance in San Antonio would “conflict directly” with state law.

Council members now have five business days leading up to the Aug. 16 deadline to get answers to any questions they may have about how constituents may be affected by the ordinance, which Castro said has been a goal for some San Antonio workers since 2010.

“I know that you all care about the livelihood of your constituents and this ordinance impacts folks in Districts 1 through 10,” Castro told council members. “If you decide to pass the ordinance, you will have tremendous support in the community. If it goes to ballot, a lot of people will go to the polls, and they will pack the ballot box with votes for yes.”

12 thoughts on “City Council, Mayor Get Feedback on Proposed Sick Leave Ordinance

  1. Every business regulation has a cost, and every business has a budget. This ordinance will raise the cost of doing businesss, so small business owners will have to cut somewhere. That means they will, in many cases, hire fewer people or reduce/eliminate other employee benefits. No question this ordinance is a clear job killer. And it will encourage startups to go elsewhere. Terrible for a city where small, family businesses are the backbone of the economy.

  2. It is not to the discression of government to mandate how small businesses are ran. We reserve the right to compete in business and in obtaining employees through how we decide to reward them. Further, If this law is passed, it will then become a gateway to opening up to even more new laws imposed upon us by our government. So where would that end?
    This is just a bad idea. If the city wants this for its people, then it should bear the burden of finding out how to do it within its own current budget. Not mine.

    • Ummm, historically governments have absolutely imposed laws about how small businesses have been run. For example, you can’t dump toxic waste into our public water supply and you can’t advertise fraudulent claims about what your business sells or offers. Not sure where your understanding of government discretion is coming from.

  3. “At least 80 hours per year in San Antonio” This is the most ridiculous thing I have EVER heard of!!!!!! That is 2 weeks out of 52! Most full-time employees get 2 to 3 weeks of PTO a year. Do the math! PTO includes what used to be vacation time. As a self-employed person, should I need to get help occasionally and my help is sick when I need them, they are of NO use to me? I would have to seek help elsewhere. If you are only working 80 days, use the 220 other days you are not on my payroll to be sick.

    • They’re not going to earn 80 hours. They get to earn hours if they work at least 80 hours in a year. Read it again: “which would allow any employee working at least 80 hours per year in San Antonio to earn sick time from their employer.”

  4. 80 hours of work would qualify for PTO??? I hope that’s a typo and it’s really 800. If not, that’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard all week.

    • The 80 hours language is aimed at business like mine that are not located in SA but do business in the city from time to time. Not sure how they plan to enforce that.

      Anyone know what the ordnance plans to require? For some reason the reporter didn’t think we needed to know that. (Geez! Who What When Where and Why)

  5. With Julian Castro supporting paid sick leave tells a lot- this is a liberal left Democratic agenda! And this is coming from a man who ran the public sector and knows paid sick leave for public employees is funded by the tax dollars of you and I!! And now he thinks private sector employers should be doubly taxed by paying for their employees paid sick leave. Listen up business owners of the private sector (that aren’t under the thumb of public contracts), you might not want to vote as a Democrat any longer, unless you DO support paid sick leave for your employees. Most small businesses cannot withstand these additional expenses without cutting employees salaries or cutting positions.

  6. If businesses can’t offer their employees 2-3 days of leave per year for sick/family emergency/ etc, then I have to question the viability of their business they are running. Are your margins really that tight? This country is in a race to the bottom for pay and benefits over the last several decades and it is only getting worse.

  7. I am not opposing paid sick leave because I think it’s the RIGHT THING to do and good for the business owners to retain their employee(s) as part of their benefit package. However, I do oppose the idea of having the city to impose such ordinance on all businesses. This isn’t one size fit all policy. Aside from the monetary impact, for some businesses such as nail/hair salons and gymnastic/dance/martial arts schools, if they can’t find “certified” person to cover it, they have to cancel their services and classes. Yon can imagine the impact that goes beyond the cost to found the program. We are dealing with lost of businesses and prevent startup business from entering into the market. Small businesses are the driving force of our local economy. We will do more harm than good in my opinion.

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