City Council passed Texas’ first paid sick leave mandate last night 9-2. While there were a great many restaurants and small businesses that testified in favor of the bill, there was some notable opposition to supplying employees with 6-8 paid sick days depending on the size of your business. Frankly, I can’t believe this was a fight. Other operators complained that the margins are too thin to provide that benefit and yet they already have the opportunity to pay many of their employees $2.13/hr. If you can’t pay your employees and can’t provide them benefits that make their lives whole, perhaps you should reconsider whether being in business is really what you want. Because that is a part of being in business: providing a service for customers, providing good jobs that enable your employees to enrich your community that you are a part of and making enough money to make the hard work worth it.
The cries come out that we will have to raise prices. If you were able to underprice your product because you were able to underserve your employees, that’s not ethical business. If you can underprice your product, because you’re buying inhumanely raised livestock or unsustainably grown produce that poison the environment, that’s not healthy business.
Today is a good day for workers in Austin. It will not create the negative impact that many businesses but, if they didn’t fight against this, then another requirement might be around the corner. It took two years to get this ordinance passes and the state legislature could pass a law next session that removes a city’s ability to mandate sick leave policy. So, sadly, this fight is not over.