Pittsburgh City Council chambers were packed on July 22 when more than 75 attended the Wednesday council meeting to support an ordinance that would require employers to give employees paid sick days
. Many, who testified in favor of the legislation, expected council to bring a committee vote on the issue that day.
Instead, amendments were made to the legislation and the vote was placed on hold for one week to give city council time to hold a public hearing. The hearing will occur on July 30, but council is expected to hold a preliminary vote on the legislation at their meeting the day before.
"With any bill there are some technicalities that we have to go through so today we are going to amend this bill and hold it," says District 5 Councilor Corey O'Connor, who sponsored the legislation. "This is something we want to get done, and we know it will get done. "
The amended legislation includes a number of changes. For instance, the number of hours needed to accrue one hour of sick time has been increased from 30 to 35. The changes also reduce the number of hours employees can accrue in a year from 72 to 40 for companies with more than 15 employees, and from 40 to 24 for company's with less than 15 employees.
At the meeting, District 9 Councilor Ricky Burgess expressed a desire to co-sponsor the legislation. Councilors Natalia Rudiak, District 4, and Deborah Gross, District 7, are also co-sponsors.
After most of the paid sick days supporters filed out of chambers, council directed their attention to another ordinance to create a board of license and inspection review. The legislation would create a five person board to hear appeals in business licensing and property maintenance cases. Board members would be appointed by the mayor.
While some were ready to vote on the bill, several councilors expressed reservations about empowering a board of appointed citizens to make appeal decisions.
"I don't think they should be appointed without council oversight," said Burgess. "I'm protective of council's authority, and I will probably always side with council's authority."
This ordinance was also held for one week.
"Anytime we're adding another level of bureaucracy, I think we need to have a public hearing," said District 2 Councilor Theresa Kail-Smith.