Petitions for Paid Sick Leave Delivered to San Antonio Officials

Activists for paid sick leave in San Antonio, including representatives of organized labor, have filed more than twice the number of signatures needed to place the measure on the November ballot, the Texas Observer reports.

When the City Clerk certifies that the number of valid signatures needed to set up a referendum has been reached, the San Antonio City Council will have the option of setting up an election or simply adopting the ordinance.

Texas AFL-CIO Lead Organizer Kara Sheehan, who attended the delivery of the signatures earlier today, said union groups represented included Young Active Labor Leaders (YALL) - San Antonio, IBEW Local 60, SMART LOCAL 67, UNITE HERE Central and South TX, the San Antonio AFL CIO, IATSE Local 76, NALC Alamo Branch 421, CWA Local 6143, Texas AFT and Texas State Employees Union.

Petition signatures for a paid sick leave referendum are also being gather in Dallas.

Via the Observer, which quotes Linda Chavez-Thompson, Executive Vice President Emerita of the AFL-CIO:

San Antonio activists on Thursday submitted about twice the number of signatures necessary to get a mandatory paid sick leave ordinance on the ballot in November. About 100 people turned in dozens of white cardboard boxes containing some 144,000 signatures, which now await verification by the city.

"For two months, we've been canvassing communities," said Alex Birnel, an organizer with MOVE San Antonio, a youth organization that helped gather the signatures. "We heard the message loud and clear: Paid sick time is coming to San Antonio."

If approved, the ordinance would require employers in the city to provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, capped at six or eight days annually depending on the size of the business - just like the policy passed in February in Austin. The policy allows parents to take time off to care for sick children.

Jessica Milli, study director with the Institute for Women's Policy Research, told the Observer that the San Antonio proposal should reach an estimated 130,000 workers who currently lack any paid leave, though her organization plans to release a definitive number in the coming months. With its large Hispanic and working-class populations, San Antonio workers likely stand to benefit from a paid sick leave policy even more than those in Austin.

"The people who can least afford to take an unpaid day off are the least likely to have paid sick leave," said Michelle Tremillo, executive director of the Texas Organizing Project. "We have the people power to make this a reality."

A spokesperson for San Antonio's city clerk said the office is still working with Bexar County officials to determine the exact number of signatures necessary to get the ordinance on the ballot, but activists and attorneys told the Observer the figure will be around 60,000 or 70,000 - less than half what was turned in Thursday.

When Austin City Council passed its ordinance in February, business owners and lobbyists came out in opposition. A similar fight is likely in San Antonio, but supporters say they're confident voters will back the proposal in November.

"[Opposing groups are] gonna throw money into a pot to make this not happen," said Linda Chavez-Thompson with the AFL-CIO. "We may not have the money, but we have the power."

Read more.