Unions Say They Have Enough Signatures to Get Paid Sick Time on the Ballot

click to enlarge Workers and activists at a recent AFL-CIO Texas rally show their support for mandated paid sick leave. - PHOTO COURTESY OF AFL-CIO WEBSITE
Photo Courtesy of AFL-CIO website
Workers and activists at a recent AFL-CIO Texas rally show their support for mandated paid sick leave.
Labor and community organizations say they have collected enough signatures to let San Antonio voters decide whether to require employers to offer paid sick time.

A coalition calling itself Working Texans for Paid Sick Time tomorrow will turn over 66,000 signatures to the city clerk's office — a number the group maintains is sufficient to put its referendum on the November ballot. Under city rules, signatures are required from 10 percent of all eligible voters in the last municipal election to initiate such a measure.

In February, Austin's city council mandated worker sick time, becoming the first Texas city to do so. That victory secured, labor activists kicked off petition drives to let San Antonio and Dallas voters decide whether to follow Austin's lead.

"It's become increasingly clear that many people are caught in a position where they can't afford to take time off to take care of themselves or the members of their families," AFL-CIO Texas President Rick Levy told the Current in April.

About 40 percent of Texas workers don't have paid sick leave, according to data from the Institute for Women's Policy Research. The number is even higher for the state's Hispanic workers.

The sick time referendum could benefit from an energized progressive electorate, which views the midterms as a chance to check the Trump presidency, experts say. But it's also likely to face opposition from conservative state lawmakers, some of whom said they're eager to overturn Austin's rules.

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