The following is a statement from Michelle Tremillo, Texas Organizing Project (TOP) Executive Director, on a ruling today from the Texas 4th Court of Appeals to reject a call from San Antonio officials to implement the city’s paid sick leave ordinance:
“As COVID-19 continues to chip away at the health and financial stability of Texans, laying bare the disturbing lack of protections that exist to keep people healthy on the job, this court ruling is an absolute insult to San Antonians who fuel our city each and every day through their labor.
“In the starkest of terms, this pandemic has shown that wealth and prosperity are not created by big business executives and corporate CEOs. It is working-class, predominantly Black and Latino families, who drive and grow our economy. Without them, it grinds to a complete halt. The very least San Antonio workers should have a right to is earned paid sick leave.
“This moment we find ourselves in clearly illustrates how vital public health is to our collective wellbeing, especially for Black and Latino communities powering our state. Our families deserve the ability to take care of ourselves and our loved ones when we are sick, and we will not stop our fight for it.”
“That’s why we call on San Antonio city leaders as well as our representatives in the Texas Legislature to do all within their power, which includes passing a statewide paid sick leave bill, to protect the rights of workers who are having to decide between looking after the health of their families or putting food on the table, because of our governor’s dangerous, premature move to toss out pandemic safeguards.”
Ryan V. Cox, Senior Attorney at Texas Civil Rights Project, states:
“We are disappointed in the San Antonio Court’s decision to continue to deprive workers in our community of their hard-fought rights to paid sick leave that would protect the health of our city and the safety of victims of domestic violence, without fear of retaliation from their employers. This common sense reform was supported by tens of thousands of petition signers in San Antonio and passed with nearly unanimous support of our City Council, and yet, a few business groups have been able to put roadblock after roadblock in the way of common sense protections for workers. The pandemic has shown how critical paid sick leave is for Texas families to support themselves and for Texas communities to stay healthy. When an individual must choose between forgoing income or going to work sick, the health of the whole community is at risk.”
“We disagree with the court’s analysis and legal conclusions, but our fight for safe workplaces and working families will continue. First, the Texas Legislature can send a message that it cares about protecting workers in this pandemic by passing HB 1298 filed this session by Rep. Diego Bernal. And in the meantime, our city government can also take other actions to prevent retaliation against workers who must be absent from work for their health and the safety of their families and community, whether that absence is paid or not. We must continue to demand that our governments are responsive to the needs of our communities, and not just there to protect corporate bottom-lines.”
Alex Birnel, Advocacy Manager with MOVE Texas, added:
“The decision today is an injustice to tens of thousands of San Antonians who fought for and won this transformational policy. And this decision rings especially harsh in the midst of a global pandemic when hundreds of thousands of workers need paid sick time the most. Despite this setback, our path remains clear, we’ll continue fighting for paid sick and other policies for working young people and their families.”
Texas Organizing Project organizes Black and Latino communities in Dallas, Harris and Bexar counties with the goal of transforming Texas into a state where working people of color have the power and representation they deserve. For more information, visit organizetexas.org.
The Texas Civil Rights Project is boldly serving the movement for equality and justice in and out of the courts. We use our tools of litigation and legal advocacy to protect and advance the civil rights of everyone in Texas and we partner with communities across the state to serve the rising movement for social justice. We undertake our work with a vision of a Texas in which all communities can thrive with dignity, justice and without fear. For move information, vist txcivilrights.org.
MOVE Texas is a nonpartisan, nonprofit, grassroots organization building power in underrepresented youth communities through civic education, leadership development, and issue advocacy. movetexas.org.
This statement was sent out March 10, 2021.