Stakeholders Debate Sick Leave Policy

First of three meetings draws supporters, opponents

Last Thursday, at the first of several planned stakeholder meetings happening through November, workers, advocates, and employers debated the merits of a proposed citywide sick pay ordinance requiring private employers to compensate for time missed for health reasons, following the direction of a resolution approved by City Council on Sept. 28. Joe Hernandez was one of several employees to speak in favor of the ordinance. He said he recently incurred a foot injury that forced him to take days off work at the end of a month in which he desperately needed the money. "Even as a fourth-year union electrician apprentice making good wages, it still affects me," he said. "I'm going to be hurting come next week."

Speaking in opposition, small-business owners expressed fears that the ordinance will make it easier for large corporations that can afford the incurred costs to drive them out of town. Hoover's Cooking proprietor Hoover Alexander said he thought a one-size-fits-all mandate would jeopardize the future of his restaurant and others like it. "Some will be able to afford it," he said. "But some can't, and many of those who can't are minority- and family-owned."

The next stakeholder meeting is Thursday, Nov. 16, 4pm, at the Town Lake Center (721 Barton Springs Rd., Assembly Room 130). The third and final meeting will be held at 4pm, Thu., Nov. 30, at Fiesta Gardens (2101 Jesse E. Segovia St.). City staff plans to present its findings to Council in December.

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