Petitions signed by more than 100,000 people were submitted to San Antonio City Council today, demanding that the city approve an ordinance requiring that all private employers provide paid sick leave to their workers, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.
The petition drive was led by several activist groups and labor unions, including the San Antonio AFL-CIO, where Linda Chavez Thompson is the long time leader.
"Anybody who does not have paid sick time, shame on that employer," Chavez told the crowd. "Shame on that employer!"
The activists say 135,000 full time workers in San Antonio don't have the benefit of paid sick leave. Maria Esquivel is one of them.
"We don't need to stress about missing work, and having food on the table," she said. "We deserve that."
Esquivel and other activists talked of having to leave their sick children alone because they had to go to work and could not afford to take a day of family leave to be with them.
Many people don't realize that the only mandated benefits private sector employers are guaranteed is to be paid at least the minimum wage and not to be the victim of job discrimination. Obamacare requires certain employers to provide health insurance, but they can get around that by paying a fine.
The Family and Medical Leave Act requires UNPAID leave.Sick leave, maternity leave, paid vacations, and other benefits are completely at the discretion of the employer.
Austin passed a similar ordinance in February, but Texas businesses and the state itself are suing to get it overturned, claiming it violates the state constiution.