Activists rallied in front of the Beacon Street Dunkin' Donuts in Boston to build support for a bill in the state legislature that would require employers to give earned sick leave hours to their employees. The bill is sponsored by state Sen. Dan Wolf and state Rep. Kay Khan and would ensure that workers get one hour of sick time for each 30 hours they work, up to a maximum of at least 40 hours a year, depending on the size of the company (smaller companies have some exemptions).
The Massachusetts Paid Leave Coalition organized the rally. Dunkin' Donuts was chosen for the rally because the company makes $500 million in annual profits but does not provide paid sick leave for its workers. At a time when the state has declared a public health emergency because of a flu epidemic, many workers are faced with losing pay or jobs because they get sick or they risk endangering co-workers and customers by going to work.
The coalition is made up of more than 80 community organizations. Many businesses have expressed their support for the legislation as well, signing the coalition's letter:
No one should have to choose between their heath and a day’s pay, or even their job. That’s why, as a business owner, I believe earned sick time is the right thing for my company, my employees, and our community. Everyone needs access to a healthy workplace.
The stories of the estimated 1 million Massachusetts workers without paid sick leave are often devastating, reports the coalition:
Manuel Acevedo lost his job as a driver in a program that helps the disabled and elderly get around the greater Boston area. Manuel lost his job because he did not have enough sick days. Manuel suffers from heart problems and was instructed by his doctor not to drive when he has heart palpitations. After each non-paid sick day he was issued a written warning and suspended from work for additional days. Manuel misses his job, “I loved my job because I helped people move who couldn’t otherwise move.” After losing his job, Manuel could not pay his rent and was evicted. He was forced to sell his car and furniture and to move to a smaller apartment.