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Tacoma's paid sick leave proposal: Too sickly for some

Workers in Tacoma are watching City Hall this week, as a proposal to allow them to earn three days of paid sick leave per year is officially introduced at a City Council meeting Tuesday.

While they acknowledge it's better to have some paid time off than none, many are speaking out about the shortcomings of the plan. It exempts union workers, and there's no carryover - the three days must be accrued each year, starting Jan. 1.

"It's a Chamber, big-business, corporate-backed proposal, and that's why you see so many exemptions for working people and the most watered-down version of the bill in the country," said City Councilman Ryan Mello, one of the plan's most outspoken critics. "We need a much better version that works for average working people in Tacoma."

Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland said the three-day limit was based on research from San Francisco's paid-time-off policy. Seattle has an ordinance allowing workers to take from five to nine days of paid sick leave per year, depending on business size.

Karen Herde, a nurse who lives and works in Tacoma, said the obvious concern is people who infect others by working when they're ill. She also worries about parents who need time off to care for sick children.

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