WA Senate conservatives attack working families, vote to weaken Seattle’s sick days law

The attack on Washington’s families and middle class by Senate Republicans and “Road-Kill” Democrats continued in full force yesterday.

Conservative senators passed SB 5726, which waters down Seattle’s sick and safe leave ordinance and restricts similar laws that might be passed by other Washington cities in the future. If conservatives in the Washington State Senate get their way, this will be the fate of Seattle's landmark paid sick days law.

Who would lose the right to earn a little time to stay home when sick or to deal with their families’ health needs if the House and the Governor accept the Senate bill? Anyone working for a company without a physical location inside Seattle, as well as employees of any company who spend more than 15% of the hours they work in a year outside of city limits.

That would mean, for example, that someone working for a bakery or produce supplier based in Bellevue and spending their entire day delivering food to Seattle restaurants and grocery stores could be forced to work sick. So could a furnace installer or plumber who enters Seattle homes on a daily basis, but who is dispatched from a Shoreline office.

People who basically work fulltime in Seattle, but go to meetings or work outside of their main office an average of 3 days a month could also have the right to earn sick time taken from them. In fact, large chains with multiple locations could easily game the system by rotating staff to a non-Seattle store every couple of weeks.

Senators Braun (Centralia), Hobbes (Lake Stevens), Tom (Bellevue), and Holmquist-Newbry (Moses Lake) led the fight to limit working people’s ability to care for their own health or a sick child. They championed “building a wall around Seattle” and bemoaned the dilemma of businesses in suburban and rural districts who choose to sell their products and services in the big bad city and now find themselves having to provide a few hours of sick leave a year to some employees.

Let’s be clear. Complying with Seattle’s ordinance is only complicated for firms who want to deny their workers even the most minimal paid sick leave and require them to work when they are sick. Most companies covered by the law that didn’t offer sick leave before, do now and are not having any difficulty.

Of course, no company is forced to enjoy the benefits of the city’s customer base and facilities. And after listening to business representatives, Seattle’s city council limited coverage of the ordinance to workers based elsewhere to those who are working in the city at least 240 hours in a year, or 6 full-time weeks. This was a reasonable compromise, protecting the health and safety of Seattle residents and businesses, but not requiring that workers who were only incidentally inside the city be covered.

A number of Senators stood to defend the right of local governments to protect public health and the importance of paid sick leave standards to family economic security and business vitality. Senators Keiser, Frockt, Hasagawa, Murray, Conway, Kline and Kohl-Welles all spoke eloquently in opposition to SB 5726.

Meanwhile, House Bill 1313 which would extend paid sick and safe leave standards statewide has yet to be acted on by the House, although cut-off for passage of policy bills is tomorrow.

How did your Senator vote on ESB 5726, Placing geographic limitations on local paid sick leave and paid safe leave programs?

Voting Yea: Senators Bailey (R-Oak Harbor), Baumgartner (R-Spokane), Becker (R-Eatonville), Benton (R-Vancouver), Braun (R-Centralia), Brown (R-Kennewick), Carrell (R-Lakewood), Dammeier (R-Puyallup), Eide (D-Federal Way), Ericksen (D-Ferndale), Fain (R-S King County), Hargrove (D-Hoquiam), Hatfield (D-Raymond), Hewitt (R-Walla Walla), Hill (R-E King County), Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens), Holmquist Newbry (R-Ellensburg), Honeyford (R-Sunnyside), King (R-Yakima), Litzow (R-Mercer Island), Padden (R-Spokane Valley), Parlette (R-Wenatchee), Pearson (R-Monroe), Rivers (R-La Center), Roach (R-Auburn), Schoesler (R-Ritzville), Sheldon (D-Kitsap), Smith (R-Colville), and Tom (D-Bellevue)

Voting Nay: Senators Billig (D-Spokane), Chase (D-Shoreline), Cleveland (D-Vancouver), Conway (D-South Tacoma), Darneille (D-Tacoma), Fraser (D-Olympia), Frockt (D-Seattle), Harper (D-Everett), Hasegawa (D-Beacon Hill), Keiser (D-Kent), Kline (D-Seattle), Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle), McAuliffe (D-Bothell), Mullet (D-Issaquah), Murray (D-Seattle), Nelson (D-Seattle), Ranker (D-Orcas Island), Rolfes (D-Kitsap County), Schlicher (D-Gig Harbor), and Shin (D-Edmonds)

Cross-posted from the Washington Policy Watch

Leave a Reply