The Maroon

Students Help Pass Paid Sick Leave

Ashley Kahn, Staff Writer

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This past Friday, the Paid Sick Leave Ordinance was passed by the Austin City Council, making Austin the first city in the South to pass such legislation at the city level. The Ordinance mandates that all non-governmental businesses must give eight paid sick days a year to their employees.

Seniors Ashley Kahn, Sami Jo Oates, Paige Watts, Tessa Barlyn, and Junior Abby Kahn testified in support of the ordinance late Thursday night. Testimony was cut off at around one A.M. on friday morning after over two hundred community members had presented their arguments.

“I’m supportive of the ordinance because over one-third of Austinites were at risk of losing their jobs or wages if they missed work,” said Abby Kahn. “It’s inhumane for victims of sexual assault, those struggling with mental health issues, or those who are just sick to be forced to work when ill.”

Senator Bernie Sanders later praised Austin as a whole, saying that  “this is not only an economic issue, but a public health issue.  It is time for our entire country to join the rest of the industrialized world by ensuring that every worker has access to paid sick leave.”

Many of those who testified spoke on the financial hardships that come with missing work from sickness and the public health problem that arises from spreading contagious illnesses to customers.

“If I end up working for a private company, I want to be guaranteed that I have paid sick leave in order to sustain a healthy mind, body, and lifestyle. If I were to go to work while sick, I would be spreading my illness to my colleagues and potentially my customers, which would lead to more sickness and economic loss,” said Sami Jo Oates.

Mayor Pro Tem and City Council Member Kathie Tovo thanked the Austin High School students for coming out and getting involved in local government.

“I think it is essential to take part in local government affairs because your voice is more powerful,” said Tessa Barlyn. “Adults sometime assume that younger students do not care about what’s going on in the world around them, when in reality, young people are fighting everyday for what they believe in. I can’t vote yet, but I can still exercise my right to speech at City Hall.”

The ordinance is set to go into effect October of 2018. Businesses against the ordinance cited that they did not want the government intervening and believe that it should be a businesses choice on whether or not an employee would be granted paid sick days.

“I’m happy that this passed and that I got to be a part of the process. Now my peers can stay home from school when they’re sick because their parents have guaranteed paid sick days,” said Paige Watts.

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Ashley Kahn, Staff Writer

Hi my name is Ashley, and I am a staff writer on The Maroon. I really appreciate student journalism and the ability to express our opinions through the...

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Students Help Pass Paid Sick Leave