All private employers in Chicago would be required to provide paid sick days to their workers under a new proposal backed by a majority of the city’s 50 aldermen.
If the proposal sponsored by Aldermen Proco “Joe” Moreno, 1st and Toni Foulkes, 15th, were enacted, Chicago would follow other cities — including New York, San Francisco and Seattle — that have laid down similar mandates in recent years.
“Just about everyone has had to take time off for themselves or for a sick family member that they need to care for,” said Anne Ladky, executive director of Women Employed, a Chicago-based group leading the paid sick day movement in Illinois.
“When (workers without paid sick days) get sick, they have to decide whether to come in sick or take a day off without pay, and in many cases if they do take that day off without pay, they are in danger of losing their jobs,” Ladky said.
Tanya Triche, vice president at the Illinois Retail Merchants Association, questioned the accuracy of studies that show an overall benefit to businesses. “There’s a claim that the benefits outweigh the costs, but there’s no evidence of that,” Triche said.
Advocates said that in Chicago, 42 percent of private sector workers, or more than 460,000 people, don’t get paid sick days.
Under the ordinance, workers would get one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, with a limit of five or nine days a year, depending on the size of the employer. A first violation could trigger a $500 fine, a second double that and a third $1,500. Workers also could take their cases to court to recover back pay and benefits.
Emanuel is taking a look at the proposal, which is backed by 26 of the 50 aldermen.
In other council action Wednesday:
*The council adopted an Emanuel plan to increase the cost of food tickets at Taste of Chicago by 50 cents for every 12 tickets, to boost the cost of some tickets for concerts at the Petrillo Music Shell during Taste to $50 and to sell 3,000 general admission spots on the lawn for the concerts for $25 each.
*Emanuel proposed a measure that would ban new facilities that store petroleum coke and prohibit expansion of existing facilities. A manufacturing group said it could hurt the region’s economy.
*A plan that would set rules on alcohol sales at strip clubs and allow a greater level of nudity than is currently permitted at establishments with liquor licenses hit a snag. Alds. Robert Fioretti, 2nd and John Arena, 45th, blocked a vote so colleagues can learn about the implications of the changes.
*Aldermen passed a symbolic resolution opposing the naming of the Washington, D.C. headquarters of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to honor Chicago Prohibition-era crime fighter Eliot Ness. Some aldermen argue Ness' role in the conviction of gangster Al Capone has been overstated.