Below is a letter sent from Center for Public Policy Priorities Executive Director Ann Beeson to Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Austin City Council this morning regarding some concerns surrounding a citywide paid sick days ordinance:
Dear Mayor and Council:
On behalf of the Center for Public Policy Priorities (CPPP), I would like to address an assertion by certain business groups that questions the validity of a recent study on the number of Austin workers who lack access to paid sick leave. These business groups oppose a proposed citywide ordinance that would require employers to provide earned paid sick days.
The study, Access to Paid Sick Time in Austin, found that 37% of Austin workers – approximately 223,000 workers – lack access to paid sick days. The study was conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research using scientifically sound methodology.
CPPP is an independent public policy organization that uses data and analysis to advocate for solutions that enable Texans of all backgrounds to reach their full potential. We are all too aware that we live in an age in which data and facts are increasingly manipulated and attacked by lawmakers and groups that have a different vision for the future. That makes it even more important to stand by the results of research conducted using widely accepted standards for research methodology.
The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that employs research methods that are scientifically sound and are vetted through a rigorous internal and external peer review processes. IWPR produced their estimates of access to paid sick time in Austin using proven statistical methods with local and national data from trusted sources (the IPUMS American Community Survey (ACS) and the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS)). IWPR’s estimates track well with access rates that are available nationally and regionally through the National Compensation Survey (NCS) administered by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. They also track well with their analysis of national data on paid sick days access rates from the National Health Interview Survey, which finds that 40 percent of U.S. workers lack access to paid sick days. CPPP is confident that the estimates produced by IWPR are a cost-effective, reliable way to gauge the number of Austin workers who lack access to paid sick leave.
The business owners who questioned the validity of IWPR’s study propose delaying the city council vote until another study can be conducted. While the results of another costly study might vary slightly from IWPR’s study, any credible study is certain to find that a significant number of Austinites lack access to paid sick days. In addition, a large body of peer-reviewed research on paid sick day policies from across the country provides strong evidence for the benefits of this policy to our residents’ financial stability and our public health. When employees have to go to work sick or send their kids to school sick because they can’t afford to lose income or even their jobs, it puts all of us at risk.
As Senator Patrick Moynihan liked to say, “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” Some business owners may not like the proposed ordinance requiring paid sick days, but that doesn’t change the facts. Sound research shows that too many Austin workers have to choose between going to work sick or losing a day’s pay.
Center for Public Policy Priorities