White House officials push for local sick leave laws in Philadelphia

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 Mayor Michael Nutter, right, and Valerie Jarett, senior adviser to President Obama, talk sick leave in Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Mayor Michael Nutter, right, and Valerie Jarett, senior adviser to President Obama, talk sick leave in Philadelphia. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

Even before Philadelphia’s paid sick leave law kicks in, members of the Obama administration are holding it up as a model for the nation.  

The visit comes as lawmakers in Harrisburg are considering overturning the Philly law.  

“We simply cannot afford to have 43 million Americans including two we met at our roundtable who do not have a single day of sick leave.  One of them says it’s been 23 years and his employer has not provided sick leave, vacation time or healthcare,” said Valerie Jarrett, White House senior adviser.

Mayor Michael Nutter says he’s surprised the issue has been so tough to overcome because he says the law kicking in May 13 will not hurt businesses.

“It’s my view five to seven years we’ll be doing this all across America and wondering what the big fight was all about,” Nutter said.

With a federal plan stalled, Jarrett says she’s working to help cities and states pass their own laws.

Philadelphia’s law, which was three years in the making, applies to employers with 10 or more workers.  It was enacted over objections from some business leaders, especially restaurant owners.

In Harrisburg, state lawmakers are debating a bill that would pass a uniform law about paid sick time.  That would trump Philadelphia’s law and would not replace it with a similar mandate applying to the whole state.  The Pennsylvania Senate has approved the bill.  The House has not acted on it yet.

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