The clock is ticking for organizers working to ensure every employee within the city of Dallas receives paid sick leave. There are an estimated 300,000 workers in Dallas, 41% of the workforce, that don't get sick pay.
"Here we only have five employees, so when somebody calls in sick, it really effects everybody," said Linda Woodbridge, manager at The Local Oak in Bishop Arts.
Woodbridge said she has never worked anywhere that she's had paid sick time.
"When I had the flu, I was out for about a week," she explained. "My family and I almost didn't make our rent."
Before residents can vote on the referendum, a petition has to be turned into city leaders. Gathering thousands of signatures is not the only obstacle.
Recently, a similar “paid sick leave” ordinance was passed in Austin, but it is now receiving a lot of pushback.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton joined several organizations in a lawsuit challenging the paid sick leave ordinance. He stated the ordinance “is an attempt to unlawfully and inappropriately usurp the authority of the state lawmakers chosen by Texas voters.”
"We want to make sure that they understand that they're really violating the will of the people if they choose to take away local control on the issue of sick pay," said Dallas City Councilman Philip Kingston, who supports a ballot measure rather than a city ordinance.
Kingston said it would cost employers an estimated $300 per employee per year. "So you're talking about a pretty cheap benefit that goes a long way to improving the lives of some of the lowest wage workers in our economy," Kingston said.
Advocates for the ordinance are pushing to protect men and women in the construction, hospitality, and food and service industries.
“This is not going to deter us,” said Diana Ramirez who is a member of Working Texans For Paid Sick Time.
Ramirez and dozens of other volunteers have been going to door to door, talking to business owners and residents of Dallas talking to them about the proposed ordinance.
“Immediately they’re like, ‘yes this is something that I want. This is something that I need. This should be a standard,’" Ramirez said. "Paxton is fighting basically telling Texan workers that they cannot stay home if they get sick, and that they have to go to work sick. It makes me want to do this even more and show them that this is actually what voters want."
Some small business owners, like Ruibal's Plants of Texas worry mandatory sick pay could be a hardship.
"It sounds good in practice, but it might be difficult," said owner Mark Ruibal.
Ruibal said he tries to help employees when they need sick time by giving pay advances.
"If we have a thing where everybody gets the flu for instance some week and we basically are gonna have to shut down and still have to pay everybody," Ruibal said for instance. "It would make it really tough for small or medium size businesses to continue during those times."
All signatures have to be collected and turned in by June 11.