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Big Win in California But More Work To Do

August 30, 2014

Contact: Alex Edwards, alex.edwards@berlinrosen.com, 202-800-8691

(California) — In advance of Gov. Jerry Brown’s  signature of California’s paid sick days legislation, Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values @ Work, issued the following statement:

“California took an important step today in signing into law paid sick days, becoming the second state to do so and joining ten cities that have taken similar action. The Healthy Families, Healthy Workplaces Act will help 6.5 million Californians who currently lack even a single paid sick day, boost businesses’ bottom line and the economy, and protect public health. It will also help those dealing with the aftermath of violence. It’s a significant victory that would not have been possible without a long history of organizing by a broad coalition of local workers, unions, small business owners and partner organizations.  

Though the bill is a first step in providing relief to many, it excludes a significant group of workers — home care workers employed through the state whose job is to enable those dealing with serious health challenges to live with greater dignity and independence. They are workers like Christine Petraeus from San Luis Obispo, who cares for a 92-year-old woman named Lois. As Christine told me when she found out that home care workers were excluded from the bill: ‘It’s disgraceful, to treat us like we’re lower class when we’re not. We work hard to make sure clients can stay at home. Our bodies do take their toll. We get sick, too.’ The health of those receiving care – like Lois – and the physical and economic well-being of those providing it – like Christine – makes it imperative for home care workers, who are overwhelmingly female, to have access to paid sick days.

The legislation also guarantees only a minimal number of sick days. Across the nation, broad coalitions of voters are working to pass policies that provide a more realistic standard to all workers in their cities and states. In the past week alone, three New Jersey cities passed laws allowing workers in businesses with 10 or more employees to earn five paid sick days per year. We applaud the California groups for pledging to continue their fight to end the exclusion and will continue to support them as they work to expand this law.

Evidence shows that legislation that covers all workers and guarantees more paid sick days is not only better for families, but better public policy. That’s why cities like San Diego and San Francisco have enacted — and others will continue enacting — stronger and more inclusive legislation. And as Oakland residents prepare to vote for paid sick days in November, the support for a robust statewide law that covers all workers will only continue to grow.”

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Family Values @ Work is a network of coalitions in 21 states — including the California Work & Family Coalition — that organize for paid sick days and paid family leave.

 

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