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September 12, 2011

Third City to Implement Paid Sick Days as Momentum Builds Nationwide

National Release of Video Highlighting True Stories of Workers Forced to Go to Work Sick


SEATTLE – Building on the national momentum for paid sick days, a broad coalition in Seattle has successfully advocated for common-sense legislation that will help working families and the economy.  Seattle City Council voted today to ensure that workers in the city earn paid sick days, putting the city in line to be the third in the country to ensure that workers are not forced to go into work when they are sick because they weren’t allowed to take off or couldn’t afford going without pay.


The vote occurred as a national video, Contagion: Not Just a Movie, was released.  The video highlights the stories of five American workers in restaurants, grocery stores, coffee shops and on the school bus, who worry about passing on their illness to co-workers, clients, customers and riders.  These workers are some of the 44 million Americans without paid sick days who risk their families’ financial security or their jobs if they stay home when they are ill.

“Support for paid sick days is growing across the country as a common sense, cost-effective policy that protects the public heath, supports our families and helps our economy,” said Ellen Bravo, Executive Director of Family Values @ Work.  Family Values @ Work is the national network of state coalitions, including the Seattle Coalition for a Healthy Workforce, fighting for paid sick days.  “In a time of economic hardship, this modest legislation will make an enormous difference for thousands of Seattle workers and their families, and help in Seattle’s economic recovery.”  

The vote in Seattle comes as support builds for paid sick days.  Philadelphia City Council is expected to pass a bill later this week, which would be the third win for the movement in the last three months.  In June, Connecticut passed the first statewide bill.  Meanwhile, polling in cities and states across the country shows overwhelming bipartisan support for paid sick days as a modest reform that promotes a healthier workforce and strengthens the economy.

In addition, voters in Denver will be able to support paid sick days on a ballot initiative this fall.  The Governor and Secretary of Labor in Massachusetts are supporting a bill in the state legislature, and in New York City, 35 City Council members are sponsoring legislation.  In Georgia, a bi-partisan group of state legislators led by five Republicans is supporting a bill that would ensure workers could use sick time they’ve earned to care for their children and loved ones.

More than a dozen other states have coalitions actively organizing in support of paid sick days and paid family leave policies. San Francisco and Washington, DC have already implemented paid sick days laws, and Milwaukee passed a paid sick days ordinance through a voter referendum which received nearly 70 percent support.