With petitions signed by 60,000, activists push Philly City Council to OK paid sick time

    Philadelphia City Council will vote on a bill mandating paid sick leave for private-sector workers Thursday.

    On Wednesday, activists delivered petitions signed by 60,000 people supporting the bill,  and demanding that companies such as Comcast stop lobbying against it.

    Several advocacy organizations worked together to collect the signatures, from Philadelphia residents and supporters all over the country. They delivered the petitions to City Council members, urging them to vote in favor of the sick-leave bill.

    Any Philadelphia business with more than five employees would have to provide paid sick time if this becomes law.

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    The bill mandates that employees would accrue a minimum of one hour of paid sick time for every 40 hours worked in Philadelphia, with a maximum of 56 hours of paid sick time in a calendar year.

    Ronald Blount, president of the Taxi Workers Alliance of Pennsylvania, said taxi drivers would not be covered because they are independent contractors. But he signed the petition hoping that their family members would get sick days. He says not having paid sick time them hurts families.

    “The family is struggling to make ends meet, especially if we’re making minimum wage,” he said. “Just to have the ability to go to the doctor without losing your wages, that’s very very important.”

    Activist Hannah Sassaman, an organizer with Media Mobilizing Project, says many of the signatures came from Comcast customers. Sassaman says Comcast has been spending thousands of dollars lobbying council members to block the bill.

    “Pushing City Council to block access to sick days for these hundreds of thousands of Philadelphians who don’t have them,” she explained.

    Comcast issued a statement that the company supports and provides paid sick time for employees, but the bill would create unnecessary administrative work, and disrupt their employees’ benefits plan.

    A similar bill passed council in 2011 but Mayor Michael Nutter vetoed it.

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