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Putting classmates and teachers at risk

Putting classmates and teachers at risk

January 14, 2015

Dear Mr. President,

It’s been a rough couple of years here in Michigan. With high unemployment, a sluggish economy, and setbacks for organized labor and workers, it’s becoming harder and harder to raise a family in the Wolverine State.

Seven years ago, as one of the first acts of your presidency, you worked with the US Congress to save the automobile industry and our state. We remain grateful.

Today, we’re asking for your help again. We need you and Congress to do what our state legislature will not – protect working parents by introducing a paid sick day law and a national family leave insurance program.

We are continuing to fight this fight at the state level, and we are encouraged by recent Ballotbox wins for paid sick days in Massachusetts and New Jersey, but parents all over the country deserve to know that they won’t lose their job to care for a sick child and we don’t have time to wait for state legislatures to catch up with public opinion on this question.

In Michigan alone, more than 1.5 million workers – or 46 percent of the state’s private sector work force – are not able to take a paid sick day when they are ill. This number grows even higher when we look at child care workers and home health care workers. In our state, as
nationwide, workers are forced to clock in sick and risk spreading illness to their coworkers and customers. Parents are sending children to school sick because they can’t afford a day off, putting classmates and teachers at risk.

This is a gendered problem as well. Women are over-represented in the types of low-wage jobs that lack paid sick time, as well as typically being the primary caregiver if a child or family member becomes ill. Without paid sick time, women are far more likely to find themselves choosing between a day’s wages and caring for their family’s health care needs.

We respectfully request your leadership on this important issue. Labor Secretary Tom Perez has been an amazing advocate for paid family leave, and his #LeadonLeave campaign has made a real impact on the public debate. With your support, a similar effort on paid sick leave could bring public awareness to this important issue and ensure that no American parent needs to choose between caring for a sick child and drawing a paycheck.

Sincerely,

Danielle Atkinson

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