Family Values @ Work

Health Expert Links PSD to Reducing Foodborne Illness

April 13, 2010

Richard Lillie, who works for the Department of Health in Washington state, writes into the News Tribune today about the recently kicked off campaign for paid sick days in Tacoma.

This is a man who knows about foodborne illness from his job – and from his children and grandchildren.  As a professional, he knows the consequences when 76 million people a year in the U.S. are sickened by foodborne illness. Of those, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention say 300,000 are hospitalized and 5,000 die. Lillie estimates that guaranteeing paid sick days would cut the number of such incidents in half.

He also speaks from personal experience: “My own children and grandchildren have been sickened by minimum-wage restaurant workers who could not afford to miss a day’s work so they came to work ill (and infectious).”

And, Lillie notes that many of these companies do just fine offering paid sick days in other countries, as he saw during the years he lived in Europe and Asia. “The fast food companies that testify before Congress that mandating benefits would destroy their business model,” write Lillie, “do exactly that in Europe and Asia because the law compels them to do so.”

So paid sick days have on their side the backing of experts, the health of our kids and grandkids, and the experience of other countries. It’s time to guarantee them to all workers.



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