Saying Sick Leave Lawsuit Poses Conflict, CPS Energy CEO Leaving Chamber Helm

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CPS Energy President an CEO Paula Gold-Williams discusses the energy companies history with public lighting. Photo by Scott Ball.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

CPS Energy President and CEO Paula Gold-Williams

CPS Energy’s top official is stepping down from a role as chair of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, citing a lawsuit between the City and a group of businesses over paid sick leave requirements.

Paula Gold-Williams, president and CEO of the municipally owned electric and gas utility, released a statement Tuesday announcing she will no longer serve as the 2019 chair of San Antonio’s most prominent business organization.

“The recently escalated lawsuit about paid sick leave between the City of San Antonio and a group of business plaintiffs is a very complicated development,” Gold-Williams said in the statement. “I have prudently decided that under these circumstances, it is not helpful for me to be in the middle of a serious and formalized legal conflict between CPS Energy’s parent organization and its customers. Over the next several weeks, I will work in good faith with the [Chamber] to transition my chair responsibilities smoothly. This said, I remain hopeful that this formal dispute can be resolved equitably and expeditiously for our community’s benefit.”

On Monday, a group of business organizations, including the San Antonio Restaurant Association, Associated Builders and Contractors of South Texas, and the San Antonio Manufacturers Association, filed suit in state district court in Bexar County challenging the City’s paid sick leave ordinance.

The ordinance requires businesses with between six and 14 employees to allow workers to collect 48 hours of paid sick leave per year, with 68 hours required of larger employers. Employees with fewer than six employees don’t have to provide paid sick leave until 2021.

In a statement released shortly after Gold-Williams’, chamber President and CEO Richard Perez said the organization is “saddened by, but completely supportive of her decision to resign from the position.”

“Paula is a model executive and a CEO with the utmost of integrity, and we therefore understand her predicament in this situation,” Perez’s statement continued. “Her announcement is not a rushed decision on her part, but rather a very difficult decision that she has made in direct consultation with me.”

Perez went on to say that while the chamber is not one of the groups suing the City over the ordinance, “we are supportive of it, as are many of our member companies.”

“Paula’s commitment to CPS Energy is and should be her top priority, and we recognize the challenge she faced being in the middle of a legal conflict between her parent organization and the business community,” he continued.

Gold-Williams, a San Antonio native and accountant by training who worked in executive roles at Luby’s and Time Warner Cable before coming to CPS Energy in 2004, has served in the prominent volunteer chamber role since January.

In her statement, she touted her accomplishments with the chamber during the past six months, including the annual SA-to-DC lobbying trip, advocating for military spouse compensation and career development, and spearheading several initiatives focusing on women in business.

“To be born and raised in this community, a humble product of our East Side, has created an even deeper meaning for me to have earned the opportunity to be the 2019 chamber chair,” her statement read. “As the President and CEO of CPS Energy, I continue to be thankful to San Antonio and will keep driving exceptional value for our community, the State of Texas, and the broad utility energy industry.”

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