Conversations regarding the labor sector in this country easily find divisions along lines of political affiliation, income, race, and gender. While gains in worker protection and family friendly work policies have been made by unions and community organizations, attacks on the labor force has increased nationally. Texas is one such state that fails to recognize worker rights as priority, and frequently uses fear tactics as a way to ignore much needed improvements. Socialists, leftists, entitlement, government overreach, are common phrases used by political figures to attack the efforts of people demanding changes to their livelihood and access to resources. Paid Sick Time is a conversation that is growing within many job sectors in cities across the country and is being faced by big money to ensure that it does not become a national standard.
In San Antonio people have spoken overwhelmingly in favor of Paid Sick Time for all workers. Organizations, labor unions, business owners, and independent citizens spent numerous hours collecting over 144,000 signatures to ensure that this gets on the ballot in November, 2018. The loudest voices in opposition so far have come from associations that represent a range of businesses small and large. There is indeed a need to address some of the concerns of the smaller mom and pop shops that currently oppose PST. However, problems of unemployment, lack of financial support and incentives for smaller business, and market competition isn’t because of workers fighting for better protections. It is because big corporations and large business have a tremendous amount of influence on politics at the State and National level. Instead, we are distracted attacking each other on the ground while big money keeps getting bigger.
Research on the economic implication of policies such as paid sick time, on both sides of the issue, are minimal but there is a growing body of work that focuses on demographics that stand to benefit most from this. As is the case with so many social issues such as lack of affordable housing, access to adequate healthcare, education, the prison industrial complex, livable wages, and so many more, gender, income, and race are huge indicators of who and how they are affected. Yet, these kinds of conversations unfortunately often times don’t go beyond party lines. The human factor is ignored.
Well over 350,000 people in San Antonio would benefit from paid sick time, and deserve to have their voices heard. Solutions for how to accommodate for such a change will clearly require some work, and many business will need to go through the growing pains. However, the social benefits far outweighs the challenges. We are a city that promotes family values, and we need to do more to make sure we stay true to that.