SAN ANTONIO – Three San Antonio councilmembers who oppose the “Sick and Safe” leave ordinance say it boils down to one thing: bad public policy.
- Original ordinance passed in 2018
- Second version passed last week
- Lawsuit currently on hold
“I think we’re just putting lipstick on a pig here," said District 10 Councilman Clayton Perry.
Last Thursday, in an 8-3 vote, the San Antonio City Council passed its second version of the ordinance.
It was originally passed last year, but the Paid Sick Leave Committee reworked the 2018 measure after business lawyers filed a lawsuit contesting the local law. It was scheduled to take effect August 1.
Perry believes government has no place to create statutes affecting business decisions.
“I’m all for paid sick leave. I’m all for it. But the city has no right dictating to the businesses how that happens,” he said.
District 3 Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran also said no when she voted on Thursday.
“I’m also in agreement with the spirit of this,” said Viagran.
Viagran's primary concern is the “one-size-fits-all” approach with the ordinance. The approved measure requires all businesses to offer paid sick leave benefits regardless of employee count.
“To treat small businesses with like 15 employees the same way as like a Walmart that has hundreds and hundreds of employees, that’s not right,” she said.
District 8 Councilman Manny Palaez argues his colleagues chose to support a measure almost guaranteed to end up in litigation.
“I don’t feel comfortable spending the public’s money on very expensive lawyers,” said Palaez.
Palaez is an employment lawyer and thinks San Antonio follows other major Texas cities on an expensive path to defend the ordinance.
“We know those fights in Dallas and Austin are going to be resolved by the courts. So there is no need to jump into the fray,” he said.
The ordinance is scheduled to become law December 1.
“I hope that I am wrong. I hope the city has the authority to be able to fix problems that we identity, but in this instance I don’t think that I am,” said Pelaez.
The lawsuit filed by business lawyers this summer against the previously approved paid sick leave ordinance is on hold until November 8.
If plaintiffs plan to sue the city a second time, legal action can only happen until the stay on the first lawsuit is lifted.