By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Next week will bring yet another city council debate over the controversial idea of mandatory paid sick leave in Philadelphia, and the sponsor of the plan now says he has the votes needed to override what could be a third veto by Mayor Nutter.
The key sticking point between City Council and the mayor over paid sick leave is how many small businesses should be bound by the bill’s requirements. Under Councilman Bill Greenlee’s plan, all businesses with ten or more workers must offer paid sick leave. The business community wants a higher threshold, but Greenlee says he won’t budge:
“We’ve already modified it. We went from five to ten, and I am not going any farther.”
A sick leave task force convened by the mayor favored a threshold of fifteen, but Greenlee says that waters the bill down to meaninglessness:
“It seems like every amendment that comes forth is taking more people away from having sick leave, which defeats the whole purpose of what we were trying to do from Day One.”
So is there a middle ground? Greenlee says he has already compromised compared to two earlier attempts that were vetoed by the Mayor. And he believes this time, he would have the twelve votes needed to override another veto:
“Absolutely. I will go for the override and we will override if we have to. We do not want to have to do an override. We hope the mayor would finally agree.”
In 2011 and 2013 Greenlee was one or two votes short of the twelve needed to override those vetoes. Under Greenlee’s current proposal, workers would earn sick leave at a rate of one hour for every forty hours worked.
“A lot of those people are working poor,” says Greenlee. “They need that benefit. They need what I’ve always said is a modest benefit of five paid days a year, if you work a full year.”
Mayor Nutter says he’s more receptive to the idea of paid sick leave after accepting the findings of a task force he convened last year to study the idea. That group recommended that firms with fewer than 15 workers should be exempt from the law.
Earlier this month, Nutter said there’s “not a huge difference” in the thresholds sought by Greenlee and the task force. The council committee hearing on the plan is set for next Tuesday, January 27th, at 10 a.m.