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Pressure Applied To Overturn Sick Leave Veto

Groups supporting the paid sick leave bill – including a contingent of influential labor leaders – have been pressuring the six Council members who voted against the legislation, in search of the one vote needed to overturn Mayor Nutter's veto.

The bill passed Council 11-6 on March 14, and Nutter vetoed it last week. Twelve votes are needed to overturn a veto, and the bill's sponsor, Councilman William K. Greenlee, said last week that he thought he could change the mind of at least one of his colleagues.

So far, 27 labor leaders have signed a letter to Council members, urging them to overturn the veto. The signatories include Pat Gillespie, from the Building Trades, Bill Gault, who heads the firefighters union, and Jerry Jordan, leader of the Philadelphia teachers' union.

John Dougherty, leader of the electricians' union Local 98, also signed the letter. Local 98's political action committee has donated generously to some of the Council members who voted against paid sick leave, including Democrats Bill Green and Mark Squilla, who is Dougherty's Councilman in South Philadelphia.

Later today, a group of nurses and child health care professionals plan to hold a news conference at City Hall to urge the overturn of Nutter's veto. Parents of children with autism also plan to attend, arguing that earned sick days are crucial to their ability to care for their children.

Republican Councilman Dennis O'Brien, who voted against paid sick leave, is a staunch advocate for autism research and parents caring for autistic children.

The other members who voted against the bill are Republicans Brian J. O'Neill and David Oh, and Democrat James F. Kenney.

Many businesses – including small businesses and restaurants – oppose the requirement to provide earned, paid sick days to employees, and some Council members worry that the bill would make Philadelphia less competitive in the region.

Advocates also are set to release the results of a poll of 590 city voters that showed 84 percent of women and 68 percent of men strongly support paid sick days.

San Francisco has a similar law and New York City is poised to pass one over Mayor Bloomberg's objection.

In the letter to Council members, the labor leaders contended that 200,000 workers in the city did not have paid sick leave, forcing them to work while ill or face the loss of wages or employment.

"Earned sick days are a core issue of economic security for working families in our city," the letter said.

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