PORTLAND, Maine — Portland's City Council voted 'no' on Monday to guaranteeing paid sick leave for workers.
The May 6 decision affects over 19,000 employees in the city. The 5-4 vote comes after a debate that has been ongoing in the City Council for a year and a half.
In February, the Portland City Council's Health and Human Services Committee voted to adopt the measure, which then went to the full City Council for consideration.
Those in favor of the bill were upset by Monday night's decision.
"We have fought incredibly, incredibly hard for the Portland community," said DrewChristopher Joy of the Southern Maine Workers Center. "We will not stop fighting for working class people and for people of color and for women and for trans and queer folks in this city."
The proposal would have allowed most workers in Portland one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, with a maximum of 40 hours, or five days of sick time.
It would have applied to all workers, including part-time, seasonal, and per-diem employees.
Opponents of the ordinance, including small business owners, were worried about cost, saying it may have affected already-existing benefit packages.
This vote comes amidst a statewide discussion into paid time off for workers.
In April, the Legislature's Labor and Housing committee voted 9-1 to support a bill, sponsored by Sen. Rebecca Millet (D-Cape Elizabeth) and amended by Gov. Janet Mills, that would provide paid time off to 85 percent of all Maine workers.
The bill would allow workers around the state to earn up to 40 hours of paid time off per year. It bill would apply to employers with more than 10 workers, exclude seasonal workers, and prevent municipalities from creating their own sick leave laws.
That bill has undergone several amendments and is expected to be voted on within the next couple of days.