A Growing Movement to Provide Earned Sick Leave Could Be Quashed in PA

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Earlier today I blogged about legislation in Pennsylvania that would prevent city and local governments from ensuring private-sector workers receive paid time off when they get sick — and why that is bad for Pennsylvania’s workers, economy, public health, and democracy.

This bill is being pushed in the state capital in response to a recent Philadelphia effort to enact an earned sick leave law that passed City Council but was vetoed by Mayor Michael Nutter.

The momentum in Philadelphia reflects a growing national movement to enact earned sick leave laws at the local and state level. Currently, six cities — New York, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Seattle, Wash., Jersey City, N.J., and Portland, Ore. — and the state of Connecticut have earned sick leave laws on the books, and earned sick leave fights are underway in several other states and cities across the country.

Conservative legislators, backed by business associations, have responded by advocating state laws that block local governments from passing paid leave laws.

This counter-movement has gained significant momentum in 2013, with versions of pre-emption laws passing in 10 states so far. As the Economic Policy Institute noted, seven of the 10 pre-emptive state laws were passed in 2013 — in Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, and North Carolina.

Wisconsin kicked off this reactionary wave in 2011. Governor Scott Walker, with heavy support from the National Restaurant Association and the local chamber of commerce, sidelined a Milwaukee earned sick leave law enacted in 2008 by a 70% vote. Walker’s law became model legislation to block earned sick leave laws, circulated by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the National Restaurant Association at ALEC’s 2011 conference. Georgia and Louisiana also enacted pre-emption laws prior to 2013.

Now Representative Seth Grove wants to make Pennsylvania the eighth state in 2013 to block local earned sick leave laws.

If you think local communities should retain the freedom to promote social and economic progress through earned sick leave, call or write your lawmakers today to tell them to oppose House Bill 1807.

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