Battle over paid sick leave resumes in Philly

Jason McCarthey has worked in Philadelphia restaurants for 20 years. He tells of having waited tables despite colds, fevers, even a broken foot.

"We don't get paid if we call in sick, so we go to work, no matter how terrible we feel," McCarthey said of restaurant workers at a City Council hearing Tuesday.

Council's Committee on Public Health and Human Services voted unanimously to advance a mandatory paid sick-leave bill after hearing from advocates such as McCarthey, and members of the business and hospitality industry seeking amendments.

The bill is scheduled to be heard Thursday by the full Council and will likely come up for a final vote Feb. 12.

This is the third time Councilman William K. Greenlee has introduced such a bill. When he started the push in 2008, Philadelphia was one of the first cities to consider such a measure. Now, 16 cities and three states have similar laws, and President Obama is calling on Congress to pass federal legislation requiring paid sick time.

Though Greenlee's bill was twice vetoed by Mayor Nutter, in 2011 and 2013, the proposal has the mayor's support this time. Nutter, who created a task force to study the issue and draft recommendations, has said he will sign the latest version if it gets to his desk.

"Third time's a charm," Greenlee told reporters before Tuesday's hearing. "I think, as we've seen around the country, paid sick leave has worked very well, has not had the problems people have predicted ... It's fair to everybody, and it's long past due in Philadelphia."

Greenlee says the bill would help many of the 200,000 Philadelphians, or about 40 percent of the city's workforce, who do not get paid sick leave, according to federal labor statistics.

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