Big Business and Philadelphia Workers: The Story of Earned Sick Days

As the Philadelphia City Council prepares for a full public hearing on March 5th in Council Chambers - allowing representatives of the about 123,000 workers in Philadelphia who do not have access to paid time off to speak to their Councilmembers about how this lack affects them and their families - the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, which represents over 5000 companies in the 11 county Philadelphia region, is gearing up to push Council to oppose this push to expand the human right to paid sick days to our friends and neighbors.

While national research organizations estimate that guaranteeing 5-7 earned sick days to restaurant and other workers who currently do not have access to them would save Philadelphia businesses a net annual savings of $574,000, the Chamber claims that the "additional burden on employers would cost $350 million and as many as 4,000 jobs".

Mayor Nutter vetoed a bill in late 2012 that would guarantee access to paid days off to sick workers and workers caring for sick family members after the Chamber of Commerce joined Comcast in lobbying heavily against the bill.  The Chamber encourages its members to directly lobby Councilmembers against this legislation, describing it as another "mandated cost on small businesses".  

Bryan Mercer, Media Rights & Access organizer at Media Mobilizing Project, noted: "If businesses aren't supposed to provide paid days off to their workers, calling it a "mandated cost", who is supposed to bear the burden of working while sick - the public, exposed to sick workers who can't afford to take a day off?  Parents and grandparents who have to pay for expensive care for sick children?  Businesses like Comcast and other members of the Chamber need to understand that a healthy worker and consumer is better for our economy.  And our human rights to health care and days off to recover aren't for sale."

Media Mobilizing Project will join other members of the Philadelphia Earned Sick Days Coalition at March 5th's public hearing.  To learn more about how you can stand for earned sick days at this hearing, email Marianne at mbellesorte@pathwayspa.org.