photo courtesy JUFJ
After a dramatic day of lobbying, the DC City Council on Tuesday passed the Universal Paid Leave Act with a veto-proof 9-4 vote. Supporters packed the Council chambers to hear moving testimony about the need for paid leave and witness a cliffhanger vote last-minute effort by business interests to scuttle the payroll tax to fund the historic program. The voluntary “employer mandate” failed 8-5 and the original bill passed, making DC just the fifth jurisdiction in the country with a paid leave program. “We won because more than 200 organizations worked in harmony, representing diverse community groups, labor, service providers, small businesses, and national advocates,” said Jews United for Justice. “This is a major, major win for the more than half a million DC workers who will benefit from paid family leave,” added Metro Washington Council Executive Director Carlos Jimenez. The Council also approved the Rail Safety and Security Amendment Act Tuesday, 10-3. “We now have the framework for a proactive rail safety program,” said Herbert Harris Jr., State Chairman of the DC Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen. While the new law will enable “proper oversight of the railroads in the District of Columbia,” Harris warned that it lacks “a key component of rail safety,” which would have required two trained rail professionals on every freight train.