Editorial slams use of job-killing sick leave policy to score political points
AUSTIN—The Dallas Morning News published a scathing editorial over the weekend slamming the Dallas City Council for putting politics ahead of the welfare of Dallas workers and employers. Last week, the Dallas City Council passed a mandatory paid sick leave ordinance that is one of the most onerous in the nation, even as the Texas Legislature debates Senate Bills 2485, 2486, 2487 and 2488 to make employment regulations consistent across the state.
Excerpts from the editorial are below (emphasis added). The full editorial can be read here.
If the ordinance goes into effect, it would see the city manager gain subpoena power over the employment records of private businesses to ensure compliance with the new employment rules. A $500 fine — just enough for a big business to be indifferent to and for a small business to be hurt by — is the threatened punishment.
The vote was not based in reality, however — something all 10 council members should have known as they delivered an empty symbol to a council chamber filled with activists for organized labor, democratic socialists and a group that raises funds to provide abortions to low-income women.
No one should begrudge an employee for taking a day off when sick. And offering such flexibility is both the decent thing to do and often good for business. Happy and healthy employees are better employees. The question is what role a municipal government should play in requiring that, and whether it doesn’t risk killing jobs instead of protecting workers.
The state of Texas appears pretty clear that a city lacks the power to enact such an ordinance. Austin and San Antonio already went down this path. A state appeals court pitched out Austin’s ordinance. The case is pending with state Supreme Court now, with grim prospects. The Legislature, meanwhile, looks poised to act this session to ensure that this latest progressive impulse of the state’s largest cities is curtailed…
So what was this about in the end? The sick leave ordinance will almost certainly never help a single employee.
What it does signal is that a bloc of Dallas politicians is embracing a sharply progressive agenda that is out of step with most Dallas residents and that could hurt the city’s ability to prosper into the future.
In 2015, the council passed a mandatory rest break ordinance requiring businesses to give 15-minute breaks to employees. Predictably, the ordinance has gone unenforced because the city has no real means to enforce it, just as there is no funding to enforce the sick leave ordinance. It is hard to see it not as a way to truly help the working poor but to rally political forces. And it’s chilling to imagine what City Hall’s subpoena power over a business’s records could mean in a charged anti-business political environment.
The Alliance for Securing and Strengthening the Economy in Texas (ASSET) is a non-profit coalition of job creation organizations that fights for policies that fuel the engines of our economy and protect Texas businesses from invasive and burdensome government regulations. ASSET collectively represents millions of employers and employees in the Lone Star State who believe employment and business operational decisions are best left to private employers, not government. For more information, please visitwww.assettexas.com.