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San Antonio City Council Approves Revised Sick Leave Ordinance, But Business Groups Dig In Their Heels


Working Texans for Paid Sick Time launched their San Antonio petition last year. The coalition collected 144,000 signatures. - SANFORD NOWLIN
  • Sanford Nowlin
  • Working Texans for Paid Sick Time launched their San Antonio petition last year. The coalition collected 144,000 signatures.
City council voted Thursday to approve changes to San Antonio's paid sick time ordinance intended to make the law more palatable to business owners and to help it weather legal challenges.

Even so, business groups took turns lambasting the measure at the meeting, with some threatening in not-so-veiled language to continue fighting it in court. City officials this summer agreed to delay the rule and appoint a panel to tweak it after business groups sued to halt implementation.

"The changes to the ordinance don't alter the fact that it's still pre-empted by state law," North San Antonio Chamber of Commerce CEO Cristina Aldrete told council at Thursday's meeting.

Aldrete asked members to kill the measure or delay adoption until after the Texas Supreme Court rules on Austin's similar ordinance. The high court is set to decide whether that law violates the state constitution.

Despite the objections, council voted 8-3 to approve the revised ordinance, which will now be enforced in April. District 8 Councilman Manny Peláez, District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry and District 3 Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran voted against the changes.

(If you need a refresher on what the law does and the changes adopted by the panel, read more here.)

Supporters of the ordinance used their time at the microphone to remind council that the measure was adopted after labor and social justice activists collected 144,000 signatures demanding it be placed on a public ballot.

They also pointed out that more than a third of workers in San Antonio are not offered any kind of paid sick leave, meaning they lose wages when they're ill or must take time off to care for an ailing child. They couched the issue as both a matter of fairness and public health.

"All of our families deserve earned sick leave, and we want our mayor and city council to deliver it today," said Michelle Tremillo, executive director of the Texas Organizing Project, which participated in the petition drive.

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