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In the Face of Preemption Threats, Austin Passes Paid Sick Leave

May 21, 2018

The Realty Brief,

Staff,

May 20, 2018-

Austin City Council member Greg Casar speaks at a Work Strong Austin rally in September. After five hours of intense debate, the Austin, Texas, City Council voted late last Thursday night to approve an ordinance that will mandate paid sick days for some 87,000 workers. The capital city of Texas is now the lone municipality in the state—and in the entire South—to require that employers allow workers to take a day off to, say, recover from the flu or care for a sick family member without losing out on a day’s pay.

The ordinance was pushed by a coalition of progressive groups called Work Strong Austin that included the Fight for 15, labor union UNITE HERE, and the Workers Defense Project. As the Texas Observer reported, the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America also advocated for the policy, knocking on 5,000 doors since December. But in the heart of a deep-red state with Republican legislators who are hostile to local action, the move is expected to provoke a power struggle between cities like Austin and the legislature that’s based there.

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