SAN ANTONIO — San Antonio City Council approved revisions to its previously passed "Paid Sick Time Ordinance," naming the policy "Sick and Safe Leave Benefits" to reflect that leave can be used if needed in the case of family violence, and expanding the ordinance's application to businesses of all size. It takes effect December 1. Under the plan:
- Business that offer at least 56 hours of paid time off will meet the minimum standards as long as employees can use it for qualifying circumstances stated in the ordinance.
- It applies to all "employees" that work for pay within San Antonio city limits including temporary, seasonal, part-time and full-time employees. If they work more than 50% of time outside of San Antonio, they are still covered if they work at least 240 hours within city limits over the course of a year.
- It applies to all business with employees who work within San Antonio city limits, regardless of business size.
Businesses opposing the ordinance plan to continue a legal fight against the ordinance.
"The idea of paid sick leave or any sort of benefit between an employer and employee is a conversation based on that relationship between employer and employee," attorney Roland F. Gonzales said. "It’s something regulated by the state, by the federal governments, and it’s not really city council’s place to overreach and encroach onto those areas of law regulated by the federal government."
Organizing groups, including MOVE Texas and the Texas Organizing Project, rallied outside council Tuesday and said they plan to continue showing up and speaking out to make sure the policy takes effect.
Upcoming Info Sessions:
October 16 – Urban Ecology Center 1:00 – 3:00 pm
November 4 – Central Library 5:30 -7:30 pm
November 7 – South Side Lyons Senior Center 4:00 – 6:00 pm
MAYOR RON NIRENBERG STATEMENT:
“The Paid Sick Leave petitioners, commissioners, Council ad hoc committee members, public meetings and online survey have produced refinements to an ordinance that deliver a benefit that will vastly improve the health of our community.
All parties came to the table, we listened to the community, and we’ve arrived at revisions that will ensure every San Antonio working family has some peace of mind.
We restored protections for labor unions, enacted a uniform eligibility period for all businesses, provided for a more reasonable complaint period, and ensured that this ordinance reminded us of all standing anti-discrimination laws.
I’m thankful that the recommended changes included provisions to protect those who may be experiencing unsafe circumstances at home. It should be noted that October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the City just approved another $1M in the FY2020 budget to combat domestic violence. This ordinance will serve as an extension to our commitment to the wellbeing of all residents of San Antonio.
I stand by the petitioners, the process, and the public in voting for revisions that provide all San Antonio working families a better chance to remain healthy on the job and safe at home.”
COUNCILMAN CLAYTON PERRY STATEMENT:
“I remain strongly opposed to government mandated Sick and Safe Leave, which is why I voted against this ordinance. Mandatory Sick and Safe Leave has the potential to severely cripple San Antonio’s businesses. In an effort to alleviate small businesses from this burden, I attempted to amend the ordinance to exclude them from the requirement to provide this regulation. Unfortunately, this amendment failed to gain the support of the majority of Council.
It is not our responsibility as a Council to dictate how private companies should handle their day-to-day business practices. This discussion should be held at the State level. By passing this revised ordinance, we are again asking for a lawsuit against San Antonio that will inevitably cost our taxpayers money.
Employers and employees in San Antonio are entitled to create their contracts for employment free of government interference. San Antonio is growing because we have had a functioning formula that has supported business development and employees. Without strong businesses, there will not be economic success, which impacts the quality of life in our great city.”
COUNCILMAN MANNY PELAEZ STATEMENT:
Today City Council voted to approve the Paid Sick and Safe Leave (PSSL) subcommittee’s amendments to the ordinance, set to be effective December 1st of this year.
We should thank the other members of the Paid Sick and Safe Leave Commission and everyone who worked in the subcommittee that was tasked with modifying the original ordinance submitted by petitioners. As chair of the PSSL Commission, it was my job to create an independent subcommittee – composed of an even mix of activists and business leaders – that would be tasked to review the ordinance, improve it and insulate it from the awaiting legal challenges.
Attorney Danielle Hargrove was appointed to lead this subcommittee as chair. Her experience as a mediator and her expertise in labor and employment law made her uniquely suited to lead the process. Danielle did an incredible job bridging the differing views and building consensus, all the while maintaining a transparent and accountable process. She and the rest of this group should be applauded for sacrificing hours – time they could’ve spent with their family or doing anything else – to find common ground and make the ordinance the best it could be to the many stakeholders in our community.
This decision was informed by 20 years of experience as a labor and employment attorney. It would be ideal to live in a world where there is Paid Sick and Safe Leave for everyone. The focus on health and supporting workers is the right conversation for government, but our municipal government is the wrong forum for this issue in my opinion. I am a firm believer that the only way PSSL will exist in Texas is if the issue is taken up at the state level. As an elected official, I have been entrusted by District 8 constituents to be a steward of our financial resources. I can’t commit taxpayer resources and local government energies to protracted litigation.
COUNCILWOMAN JADA ANDREWS-SULLIVAN STATEMENT:
“On August 16 of last year, as a direct result of a petition signed by over 144,000 residents of San Antonio, City Council voted to adopt a Paid Sick Leave ordinance. The ad hoc committee on Paid Sick Leave worked arduously, bringing all stakeholders to the table, to make reasonable and accommodating changes to this ordinance.
Today, after a lengthy revision process, my Council colleagues and I passed the revised Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance. Employees across the city will now have Sick and Safe Leave benefits starting December 1st.
The father who has to miss a day due to his child’s illness can miss work without worrying about losing his job. The mother who finds herself ill can seek treatment without the fear of not being able to put food on the table. The college student who spends long days at school before going to work will not have to worry about whether or not illness will be the reason they can’t pay tuition. This is about the everyday person who faces everyday challenges. The adoption of this ordinance is a victory for every single one of us.
This would not have been possible without the work of MOVE Texas, a group that has fought tooth and nail to ensure young people have a seat at the table, the work of the Texas Organizing Project (TOP), who have long been advocates for workers in Texas, as well as the business community, and hard-working San Antonians across the city.
Let this stand as an example of how large of an impact we can make when we come together and fight hand-in-hand for the betterment of our community.”
COUNCILWOMAN MELISSA CABELLO HAVRDA STATEMENT:
“Today’s approval of the revised Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance is a perfect example of how Council can work with diverse organizations to build consensus around a major policy initiative that will make our city healthier and safer. Council’s vote today is the culmination of a year-long process of stakeholder engagement aimed at improving the paid sick leave ordinance that was passed in the previous council term.
As a small business owner, I understand the challenges that employers face in trying to implement the best policies for their employees while ensuring their businesses continue to thrive. I am particularly grateful for the direct involvement of the business leaders who served on the Commission. Their input was crucial in making this ordinance more sound for our local economy.
The economic impact report conducted by Drs. Nivin and Roman shows that earned paid sick leave will have a net benefit to the San Antonio community of roughly $27.7 million. The Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance will not only be life changing for thousands of hard-working families but will also provide numerous benefits to our small businesses and our city.
I would like to thank every District 6 constituent – resident and business owner alike – who took the time to share your perspective with me. When all stakeholders are engaged, Council makes better informed decisions that are right for our community.”
COUNCILWOMAN SHIRLEY GONZALES STATEMENT:
From the outset I have been a reluctant supporter of the proposed Paid Sick Leave Ordinance. A concern of any elected representative is for the city’s general health and well-being. The ordinance addresses that concern by providing sick workers with the ability to recuperate at home without economic stress and without the risk of contagion. On the other hand, there is a concern that the ordinance places additional burdens on the small business industry, which is by far the largest in the city.
San Antonio small businesses will now be required to carry a burden that will benefit the entire city. That burden will have the potential to put small businesses in a precarious economic footing.
Another concern is that the ordnance creates a layer of bureaucracy and compliance that will put more stress on small businesses.
That said, the Paid Sick Leave Ordinance impacts our city’s overall health to a degree that surpasses the business concerns mentioned.
My vote in favor of the Paid Sick Leave Ordinance, although reluctant, is based on health concerns.
The San Antonio City Council approved to amend the “Sick and Safe Leave Benefit” policy today by a vote of 8 to 3.
Councilman Roberto Treviño Statement:
“San Antonio can breathe easier now that we have a more robust Sick and Safe Leave policy that will protect over 354,000 workers, including part-time employees and interns, and their families.
Thank you to the Texas Organizing Project and MOVE Texas for mobilizing to collect the initial required signatures from over 144,000 working San Antonians. The Sick and Safe Leave policy is a true citizen mandate, and I agree with our advocates that we as a city must continue to implement proactive policies like “Sick and Safe Leave” and “Right to Counsel,” which protect the underserved and address the pervasive/systemic inequality in San Antonio.
I believe San Antonio has put forth the legal framework which other Texas cities can draw from to provide paid sick leave for millions of employees across Texas. A more productive workforce begins with healthy, happy employees. Furthermore, studies indicate paid sick leave policies provide benefits to businesses in the form of increased productivity and lower turnover costs.
I commend the Paid Sick Leave Commission for their work to strengthen this policy by including language to protect those experiencing sexual assault and/or domestic violence. Our Assistant City Manager, Colleen Bridger, along with the staffs of Metro Health, Government and Public Affairs, the City Attorney’s, and City Manager’s Offices deserve recognition for working collaboratively with community and business advocates to bring forward a policy which is a step in creating a level playing field for all working families and all businesses.
Although imperfect, our adopted ordinance represents the will of the people - the tens of thousands of people who showed their support for Sick and Safe Leave. We must continue to keep sacred the public trust with which we are charged.”