Supporters of paid sick leave ordinance ready to fight to uphold law that takes effect Jan. 1

Bill filed to stop cities from requiring sick leave

By Myra Arthur - Anchor/Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - The new year will bring a new legislative session for Texas lawmakers, and some have already vowed to work toward preventing cities from requiring businesses to offer employees paid sick leave. That could have a direct effect on the paid sick leave ordinance the San Antonio City Council passed earlier this year.

The ordinance is set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2019. Local supporters of the ordinance say they're prepared to take their fight to Austin.

Joleen Garcia, with Working Texans for Paid Sick Time, said she’s ready to play defense.

“It is the law of the land here in San Antonio, and we intend to protect it,” she said.

In August, Working Texans for Paid Sick Time celebrated after its petition drive, which garnered 144,000 signatures, led to the City Council approving new rules requiring businesses to give employees paid sick days.

“When my daughter was sick just the other week, it’s a struggle to find out how I am going to find care for my daughter, which is the first and foremost priority … (and) missing work and not being able to have that paycheck to pay for the medicine that my daughter is going to need,” Garcia said.

The city of Austin passed a similar ordinance first, but this fall, a judge ruled it unconstitutional.

Local chambers of commerce have opposed the San Antonio paid sick leave ordinance. In a statement, Richard Perez, president and CEO of the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce, said:

The chamber “adamantly opposes municipally mandated pay and benefits and believes businesses should have the right to determine the benefits they offer their employees.”

A bill has already been filed ahead of the upcoming Texas legislative session to stop cities from requiring paid sick days. If that bill were to pass, San Antonio District 8 Councilman Manny Pelaez, who is an attorney, said in a statement, “Municipalities will be preempted from doing anything about it and the battle for paid-sick-leave will have to be fought at the state and federal level.”

Garcia said her organization is ready to head to the Capitol.

“We will take not only families from San Antonio. There are families that have reached out to us from across Texas, and they want to have a conversation with their state legislators. So we will be going to Austin,” Garcia said.

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