Monday, October 12, 2009

Senator Coggs: Ready and Willing

Although 70% of Milwaukee citizens agree that paid sick days are a necessity for all workers, paid sick days are still not a reality for many of Milwaukees workers. Passing such legislation at the state level is the clear next step in providing all workers federally with paid sick days. Guaranteed paid sick days for Wisconsin, along with 12 other states, is in the works. Representative Tamara Grigsby is drafting legislation and will be the Assembly champion.

As a new intern at 9to5, I was fortunate enough to be a part of a member meeting where two Milwaukee State Senators met with 9to5ers. The meeting was held in the end of September at the 9to5 community space. Senator Coggs and Senator Taylor spoke of their latest accomplishments and what they hoped to make progress on. Senator Taylor contributed valuable statewide input. When asked about paid sick days at the state level, Senator Coggs had a particularly inspiring response to the amount of work we at 9to5 and other allies in the fight for paid sick days have. He simply said that passing paid sick days statewide would be difficult, but its something that definitely can be done.

This is exactly the attitude we need to adopt in order to succeed. If this movement gained enough support, we would all be one step closer to not having to make decisions that we shouldnt have to between our health or the health of our loved ones and work.

I would hope that everyone would agree with the underlying values of paid time off for the health of their families. Hearing that its a definite possibility from one person can set an example for everyone, whatever power they have.

At the end of the member meeting, Senator Coggs agreed to cosponsor statewide paid sick days. With uniting efforts such as this, all is possible. Lets take this opportunity to lead the nation in truly valuing working families with good policy.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Does Your Child Care Center Provide Paid Sick Days?

By Karen Pesapane, National Partnership

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention keeps updating its guidelines to help child care and early childhood programs - - and all of us - - respond to influenza during the 2009-2010 flu season.

Guidelines for providers include separating children with signs of illness from healthy children until the ill child can be picked-up, and not allowing children back to school until 24 hours after their fever naturally subsides.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius unveiled a new PSA featuring Elmo practicing sneezing into his arm and went on record saying “If your child comes down with the flu, we hope you plan to keep them home and not share this with their playmates.”

It’s been said enough over the past few weeks that I think we all get it. Staying home when feeling sick is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of illness.

But for all the recent emphasis on keeping sick kids home, I wondered if my 2 year-old son’s child care teachers were sick, would they stay home? Could they stay home?

So I did the unthinkable and I asked the director of my son’s child care if teachers are able to stay home when they are sick without losing pay or worrying about job security.

I was delighted to learn that the teachers at my son’s child care have a paid leave package that covers sick days, and that they also allow longer tenured employees (who earn more leave than newer employees) to transfer their leave hours to colleagues who may need them.

But I know the child care industry does not typically provide workers with paid sick days.

Case in point, my mother recently retired after 25 years of teaching child care in Connecticut. She told me recently how relieved she is that she retired when she did, because she never had any sick days. She shudders to think how any teachers in the same situation this flu season will not be able to follow the CDC’s advise and stay home when they are sick.

Unfortunately, the national emphasis on staying home when sick is neglecting to acknowledge the fact that millions of workers in this country don’t have a single paid sick day. If they stay home, they get no pay. This isn’t exactly a great time to be losing income, especially for working families.

We all need a reality check.

Ask your child care provider, or the barista at your favorite coffee joint, or the worker preparing your lunch order, or working members of your family: “Can you afford to stay home if you feel sick?”

If they say no, ask them to tell their leaders in Congress that we need a minimum standard of paid sick days in this country.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Duh, employers. Let sick workers stay home

by Katie Bethell

The Centers for Disease Control released Preparing for the Flu: A Communication Toolkit for Businesses and Employers, which includes recommendations from the CDC, and a letter cosigned by the Secretaries of Commerce, Health and Human Services, and Labor.

Their advice? Plan ahead and “encourage sick workers to stay home without penalty,”. You’d think this would go without saying, right? What employer would want someone with the swine flu to show up at work? As it turns out, lots of them.

Today, nearly 1/2 of the workforce doesn’t have paid sick days. And, to make matters worse, the people who are most likely to interact with the public, like restaurant employees, hotel staff, and home health providers are the least likely to have paid sick days (roughly 74% have no paid sick days at all). When illness strikes, people without paid sick days have a tough choice: go to work sick and put their own health and their coworkers at risk, or stay home to recover and lose pay and (maybe even their jobs).

The CDC does right to tell employers that by not having paid sick days, they are putting both their businesses and public health at risk. Commerce Secretary Locke says it himself: “If an employee stays home sick, it’s not only the best thing for that employee’s health, but also his co-workers and the productivity of the company.”

But these leaders don’t go far enough. The CDC and the Secretaries of Commerce, Health and Human Services, and Labor should publicly support the Healthy Families Act (H.R.2460/S.1152). This bill, introduced in the House by Rep. Rosa DeLauro and in the Senate by Senator Edward M. Kennedy, simply ensures that employers allow all workers to earn a minimum of 7 paid sick days per year.

Without a law in place that sets a standard for earning paid sick days, we will never achieve the kind of economic and public health safety net that we need to combat issues like the H1N1 virus. We’ve encountered flu pandemics before, and we certainly will again, but businesses have not, on their own, adopted paid sick days policies despite the clear case for their benefit to businesses and the public alike.

It’s not rocket science. The simple standard proposed by the Healthy Families Act is necessary for addressing this, and future, public health and economic needs. It’s time for our leaders to speak out, and help bring our laws up to speed with common-sense public health practices.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Real Abuse - The Need for Paid Sick and Safe Days

This week, I met with an amazing woman. Her name is Bobbi and she lives in Milwaukee.

Bobbi has had a run of bad luck... to say the least.

The day Bobbi's son was born (pre-maturely at that), the insurance company cut her off. Left with heaps of hospital bills and bad credit, Bobbi came to be economically dependent on her boyfriend. After some time, this man became increasingly jealous and abusive. Bobbi and her son was trying to leave him, but this man snapped so badly, leaving the house shot up and Bobbi's jaw broken with plenty of matching body bruises.

Bobbi lost her job because she missed days of work while in the hospital, getting a restraining order, and relocating. Bobbi lost her job because she has no paid safe days.

Unfortunately, Judge Cooper could not see the connection between protecting victims of domestic violence like Bobbi, and protecting one's welfare, health, and safety. He ruled the Milwaukee Paid Sick Days Ordinance down because of the domestic violence protections in the ordinance.

Try finding a new job with your jaw wired shut.

Bobbi has a few things: She has a part time job in health care, huge health care bills, bad credit, nightmares, threatening letters, and a healthy 10 year old boy (she can't live with). Bobbi is still without any access to paid sick or safe days to protect her job if she gets sick, her son gets sick, or her ex gets out of jail.

You want to talk about high business costs and abuse of paid sick days?

Bobbi has experienced the high costs of NOT implementing Paid Sick Days in Milwaukee and REAL ABUSE.

The City must appeal the Judge's narrow and flawed ruling today... for Bobbi and other victims of DV who can't be beaten again.

If you want to help Bobbi take her boards to be a certified nurse, contact me:

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

CEPR- Paid Sick Days Don't Cause Unemployment

In this Center for Economic and Policy Research report, researchers find that there is no relationship between national unemployment rates and paid sick days legislation:

"Paid Sick Days Don't Cause Unemployment

June 2009, John Schmitt, Hye Jin Rho, Alison Earle, and Jody Heymann

Critics of legislation requiring employers to provide paid sick days frequently argue that these measures will lead to job loss and raise the national unemployment rate. However, this issue brief shows that the experience of 22 countries with the highest level of social and economic development (as measured by the Human Development Index) suggests that there is no statistically significant relationship between national unemployment rates and legally-mandated access to paid sick days and leave.

Click here to view the full report.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Prevent Swine Flu with Paid Sick Days

Swine flu, a potentially pandemic flu virus, is being reported all over the world including in the U.S. We now have over 60 confirmed cases in the U.S. and over a hundred deaths in Mexico. Five schools in Milwaukee have been closed for the rest of the week.

Secretary of the Department Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, declared Swine Flu a public health emergency in the United States. White House officials monitoring the situation recommend that: "If you're sick, stay home, get treatment, go see a doctor."
That's easier said than done. Today, 43% of workers don't get a single paid sick day. How do the experts expect people to stay home when they're sick? For up to date information about swine flu, visit the Center for Disease Control website.

Our country should allow all working people to earn paid sick days to ensure our economic security, and protect public health.

Take Action Now!
Ask your U.S. Representatives to support the Healthy Families Act by clicking here.
Sign our petition to tell our country's leaders that all workers need and deserve paid sick days
Keep pressure on Milwaukee Mayor Barrett to encourage paid sick time, join 9to5, community groups and kids at City Hall 3:30PM on May 6 for postcard delivery to the Mayor's office. The Mayor has started to reverse course acknowledging the "spirit" of paid sick time here and we want to make sure the city defends voters and the law, not the MMAC, in court May 11 (starting at 1:30PM, County Courthouse)

Please take action by May 15th.