Thursday, September 3, 2015

Should Philly force firms to give workers sick pay?

Industrial employers object to a City Council scheme that would force bosses to give workers paid time off to care for sick family members

Should Philly force firms to give workers sick pay?


Do you want another 7 days off each year? That's what a City Council mandatory family-sick-pay bill backed by labor and women's groups would impose on Philadelphia companies (or just 4 days off, for businesses with 10 workers or less).

No surprise, it's a popular proposal: Seven of 10 people polled during the May 17 primary said they'd like more sick days, according to Ricardo Valadez, DC-based organizer for the Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces, which supports the legislation. (The surprise is that 3 in 10 were willing to say no.)

Valadez's group claims city workers', teachers', janitors', hospital and supermarket unions and women's advocacy groups among its members. 

People who have to pay for this social benefit aren't so happy. "This is going to drive employment out of the city," David Blum, owner since 1988 of Y Pers Inc., a Frankford disposable-wiper maker, told me. He said his union contract already offers his 16 workers each 14 days off. He assumes workers will automatically take the extra days if the bill passes, "because I can't police their family members being sick."

Blum accused bill-backers like Councilman Darrell Clark, D-North Phila., and William K. Greenlee, D-At Large, of imposing social policy on employers without bothering to calculate the cost.

He's not impressed to hear that San Francisco and Washington DC already have similar laws: Those cities are "office-worker" towns where sick pay is already the norm; they lack Philadelphia's industrial base of companies that have the option of moving to nearby towns like Pennsauken or Bensalem, where local labor legislation is scarce.

He says he supports Philadelphia's chamber of commerce, and a group of factory owners who previously mobilized to slow the impact of higher storm-water fees, in lobbying against the bill. At the least, Blum says he's hoping City Councilman Bill Green, D-At Large, will push for amendments that would keep additional days from being added to union contracts like his, which already provide for paid days off.

Organizer Valadez says his group now counts on support from a majority of City Council, but acknowledges that Mayor Nutter is still opposed. Progress on the bill stalled after a March hearing, but Clarke's office told me he's working on revisions to the bill and hopes to prepare it for a vote in June.

Do you support City Council's bill that would require companies to offer seven paid sick days a year (4 days at businesses with 10 workers or fewer)?
1 Yes
2. No
We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy: comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog

PhillyDeals posts drafts, transcripts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area business, which he's been writing since 1989.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn and taught writing at St. Joseph's. He has written thousands of columns and articles for the Inquirer, Bloomberg and other media, wrote the book Comcasted, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at,, 215.854.5194 or 302.652.2004.

Reach Joseph N. at or 215 854 5194.

Joseph N. DiStefano
Also on
letter icon Newsletter