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Coalition Launches Paid Sick Leave Campaigns in San Antonio, Dallas

Ed Sills
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When working people in Austin achieved a historic paid sick leave ordinance, it was just the beginning.

Now, a move to expand the common-sense initiative that promotes both justice and public health in Texas has launched in two more cities.

The objective is to place a proposed ordinance identical to Austin's on the ballot in both San Antonio and Dallas. Well-attended news conferences displaying a broad array of supporters took place in both cities today.

Working Texans for Paid Sick Time, a coalition that includes union and community groups, is also holding a kick-off event in San Antonio at 2:30 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday, April 14) at Sabina's Coffee Shop, 2303 West Commerce St. The Dallas coalition is moving forward on a parallel timeline.

In a tweet today, COPE-backed U.S. Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke, whose campaign remains on the cutting edge of progress, endorsed paid sick leave, declaring, "Approximately 40% of workers in Texas lack paid sick time. Low-income and part-time workers are especially unlikely to be covered. This is a major opportunity for Dallas and our entire state to take the lead."

O'Rourke's endorsement states what readers of this newsletter know: Paid sick leave is well worth discussing at the top of the Nov. 6 ballot.

Union participants helping to organize the event in San Antonio include the San Antonio Central Labor Council, UNITE HERE and Young Active Labor Leaders (YALL). The Dallas AFL-CIO, United Food and Commercial Workers, Communications Workers of America District 6 and YALL are involved in their local campaign kickoff. Other unions have taken hands-on roles in supporting the drive for paid sick leave for all employees.


Community organizations that are at the center of the battle for this basic workplace benefit include Faith in Texas, Move San Antonio, Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, Texas Civil Rights Project, Texas Freedom Network Education Fund, Texas Future Project, Texas Organizing Project, Workers Defense Project and Workers Defense Action Fund. They have or will have company.

Excerpts from the Coalition's parallel news releases for San Antonio and Dallas:

San Antonio - "Families and community members are ready for a policy that will have a direct impact on their lives and will work to see a paid sick time policy passed in San Antonio," said Michelle Tremillo, executive director of Texas Organizing Project. "We believe that when we take the time to talk to the people who live and work in San Antonio and listen to them, that they will engage in the electoral process and create a better San Antonio."

"Getting sick is a fact of life. But for one-third of Texas workers, there is no policy protecting us from lost wages and working while ill just to pay our bills," said Alex Birnel, Advocacy Manager of MOVE San Antonio. "Already overburdened by student loans and a lack of affordable housing, our generation needs a citywide paid sick ordinance that not only supports young people but creates a better work environment for everyone across San Antonio."

"Paid sick time makes San Antonio businesses stronger," said Rebel Mariposa, owner of La Botanica. "Workers and their families need time to recover. A strong economy is built on strong families, and earned paid sick time is good for businesses, workers, parents and kids."....

Dallas -- "Dallas families have struggled for far too long to make ends meet as our city continues to grow and leaves families further behind, said Diana Ramirez, Deputy Political Director of Workers Defense Action Fund. "Today, we have filed an intent to circulate a petition that will bring earned paid sick time to the doors of the low income families that build and serve Dallas - and they will place this initiative on the ballot."...

"I used to be employed at a 99 cent store here in Dallas where I worked to make ends meet for my family, said Shetamia Taylor, a member of the Texas Organizing Project, a longtime Dallas resident, a survivor of our city's tragic 2016 downtown shooting, and a proud working mother of four amazing sons. "I can recall days where healthwise I should not have been at work; I should have been home resting and healing instead of risking getting customers and my fellow employees infected with a cold."

 "The service industry is huge in Dallas. Yet, there are workers who are losing their jobs, and sometimes their homes because they can't take a sick day. We are better than that. Dallas has the opportunity to lead in ensuring that workers aren't going to get fired simply for being sick," said Lee Daugherty, owner of Alexandre's Bar. "As a business owner, I am proud to stand here with Working Texans for Paid Sick Time because I too am a Texan, I employ Texans, and we work together to build a stronger Dallas. Paid sick time is good for business, it's good for workers, and it's good for Dallas. We can do this together."...

For more information on Working Texans for Paid Sick Time, see