Busy Summer Heats Up City Hall
It was a hot, busy summer, to say the least, when it came to public policy issues in San Antonio. But buckle your seat belts – it’s only going to get busier in the coming months.
MANDATORY PAID SICK LEAVE
If labor activists have their way, every company that employs people within the city limits of San Antonio the Texas Organizing Project, collected enough signatures on a petition to force the City Council into a choice: Either enact the ordinance exactly as written and supported by the petition signatures, or put the measure on a ballot and let the voters decide its fate.
SAMA leadership engaged all summer with allied business organizations which are unified in our strong opposition to the ordinance. We and our fellow trade organizations met with Mayor Ron Nirenberg, City Manager Sheryl Sculley and members of the City Council to discuss our options and to make it clear that SAMA is against a city mandate for paid sick leave.
It’s not that we believe paid sick leave is bad idea. It’s a great benefit to employees if the employer can afford the cost. But that’s the issue – many small businesses cannot afford it. And we strongly believe that local government should not dictate such a policy to employers.
The Texas Legislature probably will enact its own law in 2019 to block mandatory paid sick leave ordinances at the city level. SAMA will remain actively engaged with local and state lawmakers to continue advocating against mandatory paid sick leave.
A separate successful petition drive called for changes to the City of San Antonio’s charter, which is roughly the local equivalent to the Constitution. But charter changes can’t be enacted by the City Council, so these measures are headed to a public ballot on Nov. 6.
Voters will decide on three charter amendments, as follows:
Limit any future city manager’s salary to 10 times the lowest-paid city employee and cap the city manager’s tenure at eight years.
Give the San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association sole authority to declare that its contract negotiations are stuck and to move negotiations to binding arbitration.
Require only 20,000 signatures to allow the public to demand voter authority over City spending, taxes and utility rates.
These initiatives would cause serious harm to the City’s financial status. Major bond rating agencies have clearly warned local officials that approval would lead to lower credit ratings for the City, which would quickly hike the cost of borrowing money.
As with the paid sick leave issue, local business groups unanimously oppose these charter amendments. Besides increased borrowing costs for the City, they would make it very difficult for the Council to hire a top-tier city manager when the time comes and would create chaos in managing the city by opening up virtually every significant city management decision to a public vote.
All of which is terrible for business, including manufacturing.
SAMA urges all members to vote no to these measures on the Nov. 6 ballot. And to contact your state legislator and urge them to support state laws to block local governments from enacting mandatory paid sick leave ordinances. For more information on these charter amendments, got to GoVoteNo.com
—Eric Whittington, CEO, Owner, The Whittington Group