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Paid Sick and Safe Time for Tacoma

By Alex Stone, Communications & Technology Manager, Economic Opportunity Institute, and a PSARA member 

Soon, we hope, there will be fewer people in Tacoma sending sick kids to school and showing up to work when they should be home in bed.

Under a new proposal announced by Healthy Tacoma, a coalition of more than 30 groups representing communities of color, labor, small business, civic, and faith organizations, all people working in Tacoma will be able to earn Paid Sick and Safe Time that can be used to care for their own illness, a sick family member, or to deal with the effects of domestic violence and stalking.

Currently, two out of five people working in Tacoma – 40,000 workers – can’t take a paid sick day when they or a family member is sick. Childcare workers, restaurant staff, and elderly caregivers often in contact with the public and vulnerable populations are least likely to receive paid sick days.

The proposal has strong support from Tacoma City Councilmembers Anders Ibsen and Ryan Mello, who are preparing to introduce an ordinance that will allow all workers in Tacoma to earn paid sick and safe days.

Speaking at the campaign kickoff in late May at the Pierce County Labor Council, Tacoma Councilmember Anders Ibsen made his support for paid sick days clear. “People shouldn’t have to choose between their health and their paycheck. This common sense proposal will limit the spread of infection in schools and workplaces, and keep us all healthier.”

If the measure passes, Tacoma would become the first “medium” size city in the nation to pass such an ordinance and join larger cities like Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, New York, and Washington, D.C. that already have passed paid sick days standards.

However, the measure is already receiving pushback from the Washington Restaurant Association and the Association of Washington Business – two business associations that get significant financial backing from large corporations.

During the campaign that brought paid sick days to Seattle – and in the current Tacoma campaign – spokespeople for these organizations and their affiliates are trotting out the same old “job killer” arguments. The problem is they’re simply not true. Take Seattle, which passed a paid sick days law nearly 2 years ago, and now has an unemployment rate under 5%. It seems paid sick days are a job creator!

Lobbyists for big business groups are trying hard to undermine paid sick days laws here in Washington and across the nation because they think corporate bonuses are more important than letting people stay home when they’re sick. Here’s what you can do to help:

40,000 workers in Tacoma thank you for your support!

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