Following Petition Shortfall, Group Now Pushing Dallas Leaders for Paid Sick Leave Ballot Measure

Should Dallas businesses be required to offer their employees paid sick leave?

It is a question community organizers want voters to answer in November.

It is estimated that 300,000 workers in Dallas - primarily in the food, construction, retail, and hospitality industries - do not currently receive paid time off when they call into work sick.

Earlier this year, the group "Working Texans for Paid Sick Time" turned in approximately 120,000 signatures to City Hall, petitioning to put a measure on the ballot. But the City Secretary's Office ruled less than half of those signatures were valid - and therefore, failed to meet the required threshold.

The group disputes the city's findings. But rather than respond with legal action, they have opted to focus on finding another way to push the measure forward - by asking the Dallas City Council to vote it onto the ballot.

Ahead of the Council's briefing Wednesday, they held a rally outside City Hall, calling on council members to "do the right thing" and support their cause.

"We are humans," said Diana Ramirez, a spokesperson for Working Texans for Paid Sick Time. "We are made of the same things that employers are made of. They get sick. We get sick. We deserve to get paid for whenever we get sick...This is something that is good for families, that is good for business, and that is good for health."

Group members also planned to address the Council on the issue during the public comment portion of Wednesday's meeting.

Opponents of the measure argue it would place a financial burden on businesses that do not already offer paid sick leave, particularly small businesses. And they fear additional regulations could push some companies out of the city.

A similar ordinance in Austin is facing multiple legal challenges with support from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who calls this push "an attempt to unlawfully and inappropriately usurp the authority of the state lawmakers chosen by Texas voters.”

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