One of President Obama's closest confidantes will come to Philadelphia Tuesday to join Mayor Nutter to promote the city's paid sick leave law, reinforcing how the president has turned to friendly mayors, rather than a hostile Congress, to advance some of his top priorities.
Valerie Jarrett, a senior advisor to Obama and one of his closest aides, will hold two events with Nutter to talk up a city law signed in February and effective in May requiring businesses with 10 or more employees to give workers at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked.
Jarrett's visit is part of a national tour by her and Labor Secretary Thomas Perez highlighting cities that have taken action on paid sick leave, an issue pushed by the president but with little chance of clearing a Republican-controlled Congress.
"It gives us a chance to put a national spotlight on what's working," Jarrett said in a telephone interview, saying she hopes that spotlight can spur other municipalities to take similar steps.
Jarrett and Perez began their tour April 1, following up on Obama's call in his State of the Union speech for a national law requiring paid sick leave. Jarrett said such laws are needed "to build a 21st century workplace that reflects the needs and values of the 21st century worker."
She stressed how such laws can help working mothers, saying that after years of changes 40 percent of mothers are now either the sole or primary breadwinner in their families. Supporters have said paid sick leave would let a mother working to provide for her family take needed time off when sick.
But the idea has little chance of passing in Congress – opponents say it would impose a costly new requirement on businesses -- so Obama's team has turned to a handful of cities where friendly mayors and councils hold sway.
"I love mayor Nutter," Jarrett said. "He's been a terrific partner for us on a whole range of issues."
"He has been able to take a lot of the issues that we would have wished to get congressional support for, congressional legislation, and he's been able to enact them on the ground in Philadelphia," Jarrett said.
Perez has visited Seattle to tout that city's law on paid leave for new parents. Tacoma, Wash. and Bloomfield, N.J. have also enacted paid sick leave laws, and Chicago is studying the idea. That city, of course, is led by another close Obama ally, his former chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.