Posts Tagged ‘Paid sick leave’

We Need Paid Sick Leave!

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

By Marilyn Watkins, Policy Director at the Economic Opportunity Institute and a PSARA Member 

A couple weeks ago, as I approached the counter to make a purchase, the sales clerk blew her nose. Gross. The store was in the suburbs, so not covered by the Seattle Paid Sick and Safe Leave law. The young worker probably had to come in even with her obvious cold. Still, if another clerk hadn’t stepped in, I would have left the store without buying anything.

Across Washington, about 1 million workers don’t get a single paid sick day and nearly 90% of workers do not have paid family leave. For them taking off work to get healthy, take an ailing parent to the doctor, or care for a newborn or sick child means loss of badly needed income and sometimes loss of a job.

Access to Paid Sick Days for routine illnesses and doctor’s visits, and to Family and Medical Leave Insurance for more serious conditions or a newborn child is crucial to good health and quality of life. Our rapidly aging population and the ever-accelerating attack on worker pensions make it more important than ever that all workers have paid leave to care for their own health and their families. Aging workers are more vulnerable to serious illness themselves, and are more often called upon to care for a partner or parent with declining health. Paid leave allows workers to cover their bills when a medical crisis strikes, without having to cash in retirement savings or other assets.

By keeping family income stable, reducing staff turnover, and improving customer satisfaction, paid leave also boosts revenue to local businesses, reduces inequality, and helps grow the economy. Seattle’s sick leave law has been in place for over a year now, and business is booming – especially in the restaurant and retail sectors most affected. In 2013, four other cities from Portland, OR, to New York passed sick leave ordinances. And five states have had family and/or disability leave insurance successfully protecting workers and their families for years.

During 2014, the Washington State Legislature will meet for only 60 days. That isn’t much time – and the Senate is unlikely to pass any legislation that empowers working people and elders. But the Washington Work and Family Coalition – which includes PSARA – hopes to set the stage for a better legislature in 2015 and passage of Paid Sick Days and full Family and Medical Leave Insurance, including care for seriously ill parents.

Here’s what you can do to help win paid leave for all Washington workers:

1. Call your representatives in the House and urge them to pass Paid Sick and Safe Leave (H.B. 1313). Last year the bill passed through the committee process and is eligible for immediate passage in the House. Legislative Hotline: 1.800.562.6000

2. Email your Representatives and Senator and tell them why Paid Sick Days (H.B. 1313) and Family and Medical Leave Insurance (H.B 1457) are important to you and other PSARA members.

3. Check out the Work and Family Coalition website to learn more,, and watch for email alerts.

Paid Sick and Safe Time for Tacoma

Monday, July 1st, 2013

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:

  • If you live in Tacoma, please write letters to your Councilmembers and let them know you support paid sick days. If you have family or friends in Tacoma, please ask them to send a letter.
  • Sign the online petition: Type this link into your internet browser to sign a petition that will be delivered to the Tacoma City Council in support of paid sick days:

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