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Philadelphia Paid Sick Leave Bill is DOA For 2nd Time in Three Years

By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Supporters of mandatory paid sick leave in Philadelphia are vowing to fight on, after the plan died today on the floor of City Council.

"I'm very disappointed," said city councilman Bill Greenlee, who tried but failed to get the 12 votes needed to override Mayor Nutter's veto.  "I'm particularly disappointed for the 180,000 workers who could have had a benefit that other cities are providing."

The nonprofit group Pathways PA, which had lobbied councilmembers in support of mandatory sick leave, is also disappointed, according to the group's policy director, Marianne Bellasorte.

"By not passing it here in Philadelphia, in about two years that's going to look as shortsighted as waiting on the smoking ban, as waiting on a number of other things that we think are absolutely normal and parts of everyday life for workers in our city," she told KYW Newsradio today.

Under the proposal, workers would have earned one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked. Firms with between six and twenty workers would have offered up to four sick days per year. Larger firms would have offered up to seven earned sick days per year. Businesses with fewer than six workers would have been exempt.

In addition, the victims of domestic abuse would have been able to use the sick days for other personal matters, such as meeting with an attorney.

Rob Wonderling of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce had also lobbied against the paid sick leave bill, and was relieved the measure has died -- though he praised Greenlee for trying.

"Although his proposal was well intentioned, it essentially was an unfunded mandate that would not result in one new job in Philadelphia. The timing is just not right, but we look forward to continuing to work with Councilman Greenlee on solutions.  And we'll be all ears on ideas of alternative proposals," Wonderling said.

Mayor Nutter, in vetoing the bill (see related story), had argued that mandatory sick leave would actually cost jobs of the very workers the measure was meant to protect.

This is the second time in three years that the earned sick leave proposal died after a Nutter veto (another related story).

Greenlee, for his part, is not ruling out trying again.

"I still believe in and want to have earned paid sick leave in Philadelphia.  So we'll see what the future holds on that," he said.

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