Union Agreements Include Sick Leave Waivers; Others Still Affected

Seattles new paid sick leave ordinance takes effect September 1 and nearly all firms with at least five employees will be affected. Firms headquartered outside Seattle will also be affected if they have employees who perform at least 240 hours of work in the city within a calendar year.

During the recent contract negotiations AGC and the Carpenters Laborers Operating Engineers Cement Masons and Teamsters Unions agreed to waive coverage under the ordinance in all of the tentative agreements. The ordinance passed by the Seattle City Council said that a specific waiver must be included in collective bargaining agreements for those workers to be exempt from the ordinance.

Securing the waivers was not a slam dunk however. It was clear that the unions believed they had a bargaining chip that they didnt have before said AGCs Director of Labor Relations Doug Peterson. In that way the City inserted itself into the negotiations process. In addition the Council and Mayor ignored a major business element in the city -- open shop contractors. They are bound by the ordinance which is very difficult to comply with.

Non-union contractors should become familiar with the new rules. The latest rules implementing the ordinance can be found here. This version was released in May and includes improvements the City made in response to concerns raised by AGC and other groups:

  • Cash outs and bonus payments are not prohibited (Rule deleted).
  • Employers are not required to apply overtime rates to hourly wages (substantive change).
  • Assistance for determining rate of pay for shifts of indeterminate length and on-call shifts (new Rules).
  • Clarification that reasonable action (discipline) is permitted for clear instance or pattern of abuse of paid sick/safe time.
  • Clarification that employers are required to reinstate paid sick/safe time after an employee returns from a break in service.
  • Requirement that employers with a combined or universal leave policy such as a Personal Time Off (PTO) policy may require employees to comply with the notice provisions of the Ordinance.
  • Major reformatting of the Rules in the “Accrual” section for better referencing (easier use).
  • Minor reformatting of the Rules in the “Use” section for better referencing (easier use).

A newer version to reflect a comment period that closed June 13 is expected soon and it will be posted on the same webpage linked above. AGC will continue to work to make the ordinance as workable as possible for construction firms and to oppose the expansion of similar laws beyond Seattle.

For more information about the ordinance contact AGCs Seattle District Manager Jerry Dinndorf at 20-284-0061.