Workers in states all over the United States are joining a movement for earned paid sick leave and seeing major victories. It's common sense and smart business. Now, business owners are getting on board.
Nearly 300 small businesses have joined a campaign to support laws that require employers to give their workers paid sick days. The businesses have endorsed the Businesses for Earned Leave campaign, a partnership of American Sustainable Business Council, the Main Street Alliance and Social Venture Network. On Tuesday, the coalition launched a website supporting the campaign, Better Workplaces, Better Businesses.
Last week, despite the tremendous benefits paid sick days would have for the city’s working families, businesses, economy and public health, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg vetoed the paid sick days bill passed by the City Council last month. As National Partnership President Debra L. Ness said, the move was “short-sighted and the City Council should act quickly to make its effect short-lived.”
New York City workers will receive, starting next year, five paid sick days a year to care for themselves or an ill family member under a measure the New York City Council passed (45-3) this afternoon. The vote culminates a four-year effort by a powerful coalition of workers, unions and community groups.
The Healthy Families Act, a federal bill that would allow workers to earn seven paid sick days a year, was just introduced by Sen. Tom Harkin and Rep. Rosa DeLauro. Portland, Ore., was the most recent city to pass an ordinance granting workers earned paid sick leave. Will New York follow suit?
In most of the developed world, when people get sick or have a sick child, they take a sick day and take care of themselves and their families, keeping their co-workers, customers and clients safe. And they rest comfortably, knowing that getting sick won’t mean they can’t pay the rent or provide their children with needed school supplies. That’s the way it should be. In most of the advanced world, paid sick days are a right that protects working families, while at the same time boosting businesses and the economy.
With 12 votes needed, only 11 members of the Philadelphia City Council were willing to override Mayor Michael Nutter’s veto of the sick leave bill. For the second time in three years, corporate interests defeated a measure that would allow more than 180,000 Philadelphians to finally earn sick days.
“I’m very disappointed,” said city councilman Bill Greenlee, who tried but failed to get the 12 votes needed to override Mayor Nutter’s veto. “I’m particularly disappointed for the 180,000 workers who could have had a benefit that other cities are providing.”
In just two weeks, the movement for paid sick days has seen three victories—in Portland, Ore., Philadelphia and, most recently, New York City. Local coalitions in each place encountered fierce opposition, and yet the wave of wins continues.
Because people need it, demanded it and built the capacity to win.