Majority coalition leader Sen. Rodney Tom (D-Medina) and five other state senators* have introduced legislation designed to gut Seattle’s paid sick and safe days law:
- Senate Bill 5726, a.k.a. “the Burger King exemption”, prohibits any local paid sick/safe leave law from applying to people who work for employers headquartered outside of that particular city, town or county. That would, of course, make it ridiculously easy for big businesses to get out of providing paid sick or safe leave.
- Senate Bill 5728, a.k.a. “we know better than you”, preempts any locality from passing any law pertaining to paid sick/safe leave that exceeds state standards. Since there is no state standard, Seattle’s law would effectively be kaput – as would any future effort by local citizens to pass a similar local measure.
Seattle’s sick days law was passed by an 8-1 vote of the Seattle City Council. Reflecting broad public support for the measure, Councilmembers received thousands of emails, postcards and phone calls in favor; a poll of Seattle voters found 69% supported the legislation. Now, a handful of state senators – none of whom represent Seattle constituents – are attempting to undermine Seattle’s democratic process and silence the will of the people.
Their action also flies in the face of long-established state law: since 1967, Washington has specifically authorized cities to perform any function not specifically denied them in the state constitution or by state law. That includes paid sick and safe leave – but not if these legislators have their way.