In the midst of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the law’s implementation could not be more timely or critical. In addition to preventive care and personal/family illness or medical needs, Pittsburgh's paid sick leave law, like several others, allows workers to use sick time if: their workplace is closed by a public health official (due to a public health emergency); they need to care for their child if the child's school or care provider is closed for the same reason.
In a victory for millions of workers and families, a New York State Court recently upheld New York City’s Fair Workweek law—a law ensuring low wage workers are protected from abusive, unpredictable scheduling practices that make it difficult to work and care for a family, in part by requiring employers to give their workers sufficient notice of their schedules.
After drawn out litigation, the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled earlier this year that the State’s attempts to pass legislation that prohibits cities from passing laws regarding benefits—including paid leave—violates Arizona’s paid sick and safe days ballot initiative and the Arizona Voter Protection Act. The Arizona Supreme Court has now settled the issue by refusing to interfere with the Court of Appeals decision. As a result, local governments in Arizona can pass paid leave and other benefits laws that build on all rights at the state level.
Cities have long been at the frontlines in the fight to reform the modern workplace: local communities have led the way in adopting workplace solutions like paid sick time, living wage mandates, fair scheduling requirements, and LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination policies. But in response, states are increasingly blocking, or “preempting,” local progress by stepping in and overturning progressive local laws or preventing cities from passing them in the first place.
Earlier this week, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court handed down a long-awaited decision upholding Pittsburgh’s paid sick time ordinance. The City of Pittsburgh, with assistance from A Better Balance and many other community organizations, passed the ordinance nearly four years ago to the day—on August 3, 2015—but its implementation had been on hold while a lawsuit against the law made its way through the court system.
We work in cities across the country to fight for fair workplace policies such as paid leave and sick time, predictable and flexible work schedules, and nondiscrimination, which often involves helping cities defend those policies against state efforts to roll them back.
We know how important it is for cities and local communities to be able to develop and implement policies that are responsive to their own needs and for their voices to be heard at all levels of government, which is why structural, pro-democratic reforms are so crucial for progressive policymaking across issues.
Local governments are an important powerhouse of progressive policymaking, and we are dedicated to strengthening, protecting, and defending local democracy in the years ahead.
Tennessee has been at the center of a number of recent preemption conflicts in recent years, from the state’s 2011 law that prohibited cities from enacting nondiscrimination policies more protective than the state’s law to a bill passed this year that will withhold state funding for cities with certain “sanctuary city” policies.
We applaud the passage today of Michigan’s earned paid sick time law giving nearly 2 million hard-working Michiganders the right to take time off to care for themselves and their families. But the fight is not over.