By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It was an about-face of sorts by Mayor Nutter this past week: he created a task force to study the idea of mandatory paid sick leave in Philadelphia, despite having vetoed paid sick leave legislation twice in the last three years.
Mayor Nutter twice, in 2011 and 2013, sided with the business community by vetoing measures that would have required local companies to offer workers paid sick leave. Twice supporters of the idea failed to override the veto.
Now, though, the Mayor has cracked the door open on the idea, by creating a task force to look at the matter. We asked if he now regretted his vetoes and Nutter implied that it was politically expedient at the time to side with the business owners.
“Just because I publicly may not have been supportive of something in the past, doesn’t mean that privately I didn’t have my own thoughts about it, and a game plan to move a controversial issue forward.”
That game plan involves a 15-members task force that includes members of the business community and advocates for mandatory sick leave. The panel will report back to the mayor by December 1 and possibly suggest new legislation that would be more palatable to local businesses.
Nutter indicated the evolution of his thinking on the matter was spurred in part by seeing other cities adopt mandatory sick leave.
“I’ve continued to look at this issue. A number of other cities have been able to do this, and they didn’t fall apart. There is thought that should be given to something as complicated as this issue.”
Sick leave advocates argue that the requirement actually helps the bottom line of businesses because other workers are less likely to get sick when coworkers stay home when ill.
Opponents argue that the mandate would be ripe for abuse by workers and that the free market, not government, should be determining sick leave policy.
The two measures vetoed by the mayor were authored by Councilman at large Bill Greenlee, who joined the mayor in the announcement of the task force. His proposals would have required local businesses to offer one hour for every 40 hours of work.
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