Paid sick leave discussion heats up in Tacoma

Tacoma, Wash. -- Seattle already has a paid sick leave law, and now Tacoma could be next. Mayor Marilyn Strickland presented her paid sick leave proposal to city council Tuesday afternoon. No decisions have been made, but the objective of Tuesday's Committee of the Whole meeting was for the city council to see and hear what the mayor was proposing and discuss if it's the best plan for Tacoma.

It was a standing room only crowd, though public comment was not permitted. Many though voiced their concerns with signs saying, "3 days is not enough" and "More than 3 for 253."

The mayor's proposal to council would require employers to provide three days of paid sick leave, a number she has said since October.

Employees would have to work for their employer for 180 days before accruing sick leave. Businesses would need to comply with the ordinance by January 1, 2016. Enforcement would be complaint-based.

There were many questions brought up by city council members, including council member David Boe who wanted to know how many people and businesses would this affect. Mayor Strickland responded by saying she didn't need official numbers to see this is an issue affecting the community.

Stink restaurant owner Kris Blondin has been open for nearly three years and said even with a catchy name, the restaurant business isn't an easy one to survive and one made harder if Tacoma mandated paid sick leave.

"If this comes down the pipe, do I stay open? Asked Blondin. "I'm not sure. I don't know if I want to."

Among those supporting the cause, are some of Tacoma's clergy like Ann Adkinson of Tacoma First United Methodist Church. She has attended city council meetings to express support of paid sick leave.

"I and members of my congregation feel this is a justice issue that springs out of who Jesus was and good news for the poor and oppressed that he came to proclaim," said Adkinson.

Seattle's paid sick leave law exempts businesses with fewer than four employees.


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