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‘Historic’ Day for Working Families, as San Diego & Eugene, OR Become 8th, 9th Cities to Pass Paid Sick Days

July 29, 2014

Votes Mean Another 300,000 Americans Won’t Have to Choose Between Their Health & Their Paycheck

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

(Washington, DC) – In one of the most significant days for family-friendly workplaces in recent history, legislators in San Diego, CA and Eugene, OR yesterday passed legislation guaranteeing workers access to paid sick days. The votes come just weeks after the first-ever White House Summit on Working Families, which underscored the overwhelming public support and momentum for paid leave and thrust such policies to the center of the national political debate.

“Today is a historic day for working families,” said Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values @ Work, a nationwide network of coalitions in 21 states, including California and Oregon, that are fighting for and winning paid sick days and family leave insurance. “Campaigns for paid sick days in Eugene and San Diego involved months of organizing by local workers, small business owners and many partner organizations. Yesterday, their work paid off: no longer will workers in Eugene and San Diego be forced to choose between the job they need and the family that needs them.

At a second reading in San Diego, the City Council passed 6-3 a measure that guarantees full-time employees up to five earned sick days per year; part-time workers can earn prorated sick days based on the number of hours they work. The measure now heads to Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s desk, whose pledged veto of the legislation would likely fall victim to a Council override. In Eugene, the City Council passed 5-3 legislation that would provide an additional 25,000 workers with one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to a maximum of 40 hours a year, no matter the size of the employer. Barring legal challenges, the new policy will go into effect July 2015.

In both cities, industry-backed lobbyists are trying to derail the victories, but popular sentiment clearly supports the sensible workplace standard. The number of U.S. cities with paid sick days policies has tripled in the past 15 months, and more wins are on the horizon.

“The passing of this measure means my mother will no longer have to choose between a day’s wages and caring for my little brother when he’s sick,” said Biviana Lagunas, 21, a full-time student and low-wage worker in San Diego, following the vote. “Right now, I work to pay for school and make sure my family can keep up with the rent. Now, my sister and I can use more of our time to study instead of stressing about how our family will get by.”

At the White House Summit in June, more than 1,000 workers, advocates, experts, public health officials and business leaders joined members of the Obama administration to discuss how to advance 21st century workplace policies. Echoing leaders in cities and states nationwide, President Obama urged “mayors, governors, state legislators and CEOs” to lead the way on paid sick days and family leave insurance, given inertia in Congress.

Eugene and San Diego join four cities  – Portland, New York City, Newark and Jersey City – that all passed paid sick days laws in the last year, joining San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C. and the state of Connecticut. In New York City, where paid sick days was a powerful determinant in the Democratic primary, Mayor Bill de Blasio expanded the city’s legislation to include an additional 300,000 workers, and Washington, DC added tipped workers. Additional citywide paid sick days laws or ballot initiatives are currently under consideration in Chicago; Tacoma, WA; Oakland and several places in New Jersey; and statewide initiatives are gaining steam in California, Massachusetts, and elsewhere.

While legislation advances at the local level, more and more voters and politicians are supporting such policies. An overwhelming majority (73%, and 78% of women) said they were more likely to vote for a candidate who supports policies like paid sick days. Currently, 40 percent of the workforce lacks even a single paid sick day, and millions more can’t use their time to care for a sick child, or are given disciplinary points for using the time they’ve earned.

Family Values @ Work has worked closely with business owners and economic experts to show that policies like paid sick days boost productivity, bolster businesses’ bottom line and strengthen the economy. Studies of paid sick days laws passed in San Francisco and Seattle have shown no negative impact on local economies, and both cities outpaced neighbors that lacked earned sick time protection.

Family Values @ Work is a network of coalitions in 21 states working to pass policies that value families at work, such as paid sick days and affordable family leave. More information is available at http://familyvaluesatwork.org. Follow the conversation on Twitter @FmlyValuesWork and on Facebook at FamilyValuesatWork.

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