Workman vows to repeal Austin's 'Paid Sick Leave' ordinance

David Kruger's dad opened Kruger's Diamond Jewelers back in 1939...starting later this year the small business owner will be mandated to pay his eight employees earned sick time.

Up to 48 hours a year per employee due to staffing size.

"I feel like I'm pretty generous with my people. I really don't need somebody who doesn't have a financial interest in my business making financial decisions for me," Kruger said.

The hundreds of speakers during Thursday's council discussion included some star power -- support from former Fort Worth Senator Wendy Davis who now calls Austin home.

"From mothers who currently have to make a decision to send a sick child to school or to go to work sick themselves and potentially get their co-workers sick," Davis said.

Even though several Council Members had concerns, only Council Members Houston and Troxclair voted no in the end. "You say they won't be put out of business but you don't know that. And if that's not true what your assertions are, what do we say to the business owners and the people they hire? Oops we made a mistake?" Houston said.

Some who feel like the ordinance will hurt small businesses got laughed at.

Others hissed at.

"You can hiss at me. I ran for office. I take responsibility for what I say up here and the votes that I take. But it was so incredibly disrespectful for those people to be treated the way they were treated tonight. and so I have no doubt that that's exactly how they were treated throughout this 'exclusive stakeholder process,'" Troxclair said.

Paid sick leave passed at nearly 1am.

Jose Garza, Executive Director of Workers Defense says the victory was historic.

"Austin is now the first city in the south to ensure that every working person has the opportunity to earn paid sick days and to use those days to care for themselves," Garza said.

But with lawmakers at the capitol coming back to work next year, the ordinance is already in danger.

"I think some legislator somewhere in Austin has already written the legislation to repeal this ordinance. Just from last night to this morning it's already written," Kruger joked.

During a Friday press conference, State Rep. Paul Workman says he supports employers paying sick leave but it's not the role of government to mandate it.

"It was pretty clear that the council was not interested in hearing opposing views. And so I will make good on my promise to file legislation on the first day possible to reverse this and the other liberal Austin policies that they've enacted," Workman said.

"Over the last several years Paul Workman and Governor Abbott and their allies at the legislature have made clear that their intention is to declare war on working families in the State of Texas but here we're going to continue to fight alongside and with working people," Garza said.

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