Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald Vetoes Paid Sick Leave Bill

There's a showdown underway over a plan to mandate paid sick leave for employees in Allegheny County. County Council overwhelmingly approved the bill, but County Executive Rich Fitzgerald vetoed it; KDKA's Paul Martino reports.

Video Transcript

- A showdown is underway over a plan to mandate paid sick leave for workers in Allegheny County. County Council overwhelmingly approved the bill earlier this month. Today, though, a veto from County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. And Paul Martino reports workers are caught in the middle. Paul?

PAUL MARTINO: Yeah. Ken, on the surface, this appears to be an argument over process. The County Executive Rich Fitzgerald saying, he favors the plan, but he says council didn't properly vote this into law. But at least one council member claims that Fitzgerald has a hidden agenda, and that he really is not in favor of paid sick leave.

The law would grant up to five paid sick days for workers in Allegheny County. The county executive says he's in favor of it. But claims council was legally obligated to get the Health Department's approval first.

RICH FITZGERALD: It's a law that won't hold up in court. So it would make people vulnerable. It would give people false hope. So we want to do it. We want to do it right.

PAUL MARTINO: But County Councilwoman Bethany Hallam says it's just not true.

BETHANY HALLAM: Our legislation is sound, has been reviewed by multiple attorneys, has been approved by our County Council solicitor, and it's good to go.

PAUL MARTINO: Hallam claims Fitzgerald isn't being sincere, and he really opposes the law.

BETHANY HALLAM: He has been in a position to pass paid sick leave for at least a decade now. He's been the county executive for 10 years, and on council prior to that.

PAUL MARTINO: Not so, says Fitzgerald.

RICH FITZGERALD: First of all, I've been supportive of the concept. But we want to protect, not only the workers themselves, but their co-workers, so that people aren't forced to go to work while they're sick because that's the only way they're going to get paid.

PAUL MARTINO: This sets up an unusual battle between the Democratic County Council and the Democratic executive director. Council does have the votes to override Fitzgerald's veto. In the meantime, many workers in the county are having to decide whether they'll miss a day's pay or go in to work sick. Reporting live outside the Allegheny County Courthouse, Paul Martino, KDKA News.