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Miami Community Leaders Call for Earned Sick Time

October 17, 2012

With the support of more than 40 community organizations, the Miami-Dade Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces today kicked off its campaign to guarantee that workers in the area can earn paid sick days.

“In this economy, we need to make sure that people can afford to stay home when they or a loved one are sick without fear of falling behind on bills or losing their job,” said Commissioner Barbara Jordan, sponsor of the Miami-Dade Earned Sick Time proposal. “No working person in Miami-Dade should be forced to choose between their family’s economic security and their family’s health.”

Speakers at the press conference reflected the range of groups involved in this effort – labor and business, groups focused on women, faith, health, racial justice and ending poverty. The speakers shared personal stories and discussed how earned sick time would strengthen economic security for working families, save businesses turnover costs, make workplaces healthier and more productive, and protect public health.

“If you want your employees to concentrate on their work, the last thing you need is for them to be worrying about paying bills if they get sick,” said Santiago Leon, Employee Benefits Advisor, AAC Insurance Brokers and Founding Chair and member of the Miami-Dade County Worksite Wellness Committee. “They need to be able to focus on getting better and getting back to work. Letting employees earn paid sick leave is good business — that’s why the most successful employers in American do it.”

Maurose Frantz, a dishwasher at Capitol Grille, a restaurant chain owned by Darden, talked about how hard he works in order to help support his parents, grandparents and little brother.  “If I get sick it doesn’t matter,” Maurose said. “I have no choice but to go to work.  If I called out sick, I’d be fired and my family would be devastated.”

Martha Baker, president of SEIU Local 1991 which represents more than 4,000 nurses, doctors and health care professionals at Jackson Health System, described the devastation caused to families and the economy when workers have to go to their jobs when they’re sick. “We see too many people come through the emergency room with illnesses, injuries or other crises that could have easily been prevented if they been able to get routine care,” Baker said.  “Too many kids come through our doors suffering because their parents couldn’t take them to the doctor during work hours.”

“Time to recover from an illness or care for a loved one as they recover from an illness is a right that too many hardworking people in Miami-Dade are denied,” said Reverend Guillermo Marquez-Sterling of Coral Gables Congregational Church and representing South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice.  “A weak economy is no excuse to treat one another poorly—in fact it is a call to action.  When times are tough, we need to support each other.  No family should fall into debt or poverty because of the flu.  No worker should be fired for taking care of their health.  We are better than that.”





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