Earned Sick Time Strengthens Economic Security for Working Families,
Saves Businesses Money, Boosts Economic Recovery
MIAMI, FL—Building off the national momentum for family-friendly economic policies like earned sick time, elected officials, interfaith, business and union leaders joined health experts, voters, workers and parents from Miami-Dade County at the County Commission on Wednesday for a press conference to voice their support for bringing earned sick time to Miami-Dade County.
“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 that they’ll fall behind on bills or lose 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.”
Kit Rafferty, Executive Director of South Florida Jobs with Justice co-hosted the press conference with Jean Souffrant, Policy Coordinator for ROC-Miami and the Miami-Dade Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces. Speakers included Commissioner Barbara Jordan who is sponsoring the proposal, Martha Baker, President of SEIU Local 1991, Viviene Dixon-Shim, President of AFSCME Local 1363, Jacob Coker Dukowitz, Advocacy Director of Catalyst Miami, local business owner Santiago Leon, and Maurose Frantz, a dish washer at Capitol Grille restaurant. They 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.”
Numerous studies show the positive impact that earned sick time have on businesses and the economy, and cities and states have been adopting earned sick time policies to help improve public health and bolster the economic recovery over the past year. Economists say job retention policies like earned sick time help reduce unemployment and strengthen economic recovery. San Francisco, which has had an earned sick time law for four years, was rated by PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2011 as one of the top cities in the world to do business, and more than two in three San Francisco businesses support the local law with six in seven reporting no negative impact on profitability.
“I work hard at my job as a dishwasher because I have to help support my parents, grandparents and little brother,” said Maurose Frantz, a dishwasher at Capitol Grille, a restaurant chain owned by Darden. “If I get sick it doesn’t matter. I have no choice but to go to work. If I called out sick, I’d be fired and my family would be devastated.”
Earned sick time would also have immediate public health benefits. During the H1N1 outbreak, an estimated 7 million Americans were infected by 8 million co-workers who came to the job sick. “Without paid sick days, workers in Miami-Dade are forced to go into work sick rather than risk losing the job or wages their families depend on, and it puts everyone’s health at risk,” said Martha Baker, President of SEIU Local 1991, which represents over 4,000 nurses, doctors and healthcare professionals at Jackson Health System. “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. 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.”
Across the country, cities and states have been adopting paid sick days policies to help improve public health and bolster the economic recovery. Last summer, Connecticut passed the first statewide paid sick days law, followed soon after by city-wide laws in Seattle and Philadelphia, which to the existing laws in San Francisco and Washington, DC, and is part of a growing momentum for legislation Massachusetts, New York City and others.
The Miami-Dade Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces: Roc-Miami, South Florida Jobs with Justice, South Florida Interfaith Worker Justice, Florida Alliance for Retired Americans, Haitian American Chamber of Commerce, Florida New Majority Education Fund, South Florida AFL-CIO, Florida Immigrant Coalition , RISEP/Florida International University, SEIU Local 1991, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 349, International Union of Painters and Allied Trades Local 1975, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1363, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1542, Communication Workers of America Local 3122, Transport Workers Union Local 568, National Council of La Raza, UA Local 725, OPEIU Local 100, United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, Our Wal-Mart Campaign, A. Philip Randolph Institute, Rainbow Push Coalition, Florida Consumer Action Network, National Congress of Black Women, WeCount!, Machinists Retirees, Organize Now, Labor Council Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), Equality Florida, Farmworker Association of Florida , ACC Insurance Brokers, Vecinos/Mobile Home Council, Coral Gables Congregational Church, Florida Chain, International Longshoreman Association Local 1922, International Longshoreman Association Local 1416, Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Transport Workers Local 291, Miami Workers Center, Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast