Obama Announces Executive Order For Paid Sick Leave At Boston Breakfast

President Obama speaks at the Greater Boston Labor Council Labor Day Breakfast Monday. (Andrew Harnik/AP)
President Obama speaks at the Greater Boston Labor Council Labor Day Breakfast Monday. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

President Obama announced an executive order requiring paid sick leave for more than 300,000 employees of federal contractors Monday morning.

The announcement came during remarks at the annual Labor Day breakfast in Boston hosted by the Greater Boston Labor Council.

Despite his order, Obama says 44 million American still won't have the benefit, and he's calling on Congress to change that.

"I'm calling on Congress, take a cue from the rest of the world," Obama said to the breakfast crowd at the Park Plaza Hotel. "Make paid family and medical leave a reality for all Americans."

Obama says Republicans who stand in the way of helping workers have been wrecking the economy for "a long, long time."

Many Republicans oppose the idea of forcing companies to implement paid sick leave. Mass. GOP spokesman Terry MacCormack would not comment on earned sick time, but he faulted the president for not discussing cost increases under Obamacare.

"It's disappointing that President Obama today chose not to address a real hit to Massachusetts families, and especially union households, and that's the disastrous Obamacare tax on employer provided health plans," MacCormack told WBUR's Simón Rios.

At the breakfast, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a former labor leader, praised the labor movement, but said it can still do more for workers.

"We need a labor movement that helped lead the civil rights movement in the '60s. Instead we see some unions not doing enough to bring persons of color and women into their ranks," Walsh said. "...Men and women can and must earn equal pay for equal work."

Some union workers used the day to voice concerns about job protection.

Earlier Monday morning, hundreds of MBTA workers protested in front of the Plaza over plans to privatize some T services.

Steve Tolman, the president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, was with the protesters Monday morning.

"We've seen this scheme, 30 years ago, 20 years ago, they always want to try to privatize services, and when we do that we lose the continuity of public services," Tolman said. "It seems sometimes profits over people take place."

State Sen. Marc Pacheco reprimanded his colleagues who voted to suspend the anti-privatization law that bears his name.

"They weren't there to see the inside deals," he said to the group of protesters. "They weren't there to see the no bid contracts handed out, so they need to be educated."

With reporting by WBUR's Simón Rios

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified the number of employees the executive order would affect. We regret the error.

This article was originally published on September 07, 2015.



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