Sick-leave law will reach into kitchens

City Council passed legislation Thursday requiring city employers or those who receive city leases, financial aid or contracts to provide full-time employees with paid sick-leave days.

At the hearing, workers testified about being forced to show up for work sick for fear of losing a valuable day’s pay — or their jobs.

Andrea LeMoins, coordinator of the Restaurant Opportunities Center and former pastry chef, said that she has made and served birthday cake to Mayor Michael Nutter while ill and cheesecake to former Gov. Ed Rendell during a bout of pneumonia.

Kathy Black testified on behalf of Barbara Rusello, who worked at Philadelphia International Airport. “She caught the flu last year and, though she tried to keep the germs to herself, she poured drinks and served food all day,” Black said.

Andre Butler, a banquet server of five years, said that even when he severely injured his back he still took jobs offered through an employment agency because he needed the money.

His back gave out during a hotel dinner, causing him to drop a tray of steaming hot entrees. “I just missed the guests,” he said. “When something happens and someone sues your business … is it worth it?”

‘Just don’t take city money’

Missy Quinn of the Business Owners and Managers Association in Philadelphia was harshly rebuked after she testified against the bill. “From a business perspective, the bill stands to become yet another impediment for economic development in the city,” she said.

After confirming that BOMA and Chamber of Commerce officials, who also opposed the bill, were themselves afforded paid sick leave, bill sponsor Councilman Wilson Goode, Jr., said, “At the end of the day, if BOMA doesn’t want to follow this requirement, just don’t take any money from the city.”

“We should not have to choose between being pro-worker and pro-business. It’s a false choice being presented by the Chamber of Commerce and those wishing to suck up to them.”

More laws

Other bills sponsored by Councilman Wilson Goode, Jr. that passed in Council Thursday included:

A bill establishing a Living Wage and Benefits Review Committee

An Economic Opportunity Transparency bill, which requires city contractors or recipients of financial aid to submit an economic opportunity plan to Council

A new CDC Tax agreement bill, which gives tax credits to businesses that donate to a local community development corporation

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