From coast to coast, working families and local governments are taking up paid sick days initiatives
With bi-partisan support from voters, cities and states nationwide are taking up paid sick days in their first legislative sessions of 2015 to make sure fewer working people are forced to choose between their health and their jobs. In the coming weeks, three cities and four states are set to consider or vote on policies ensuring their workers can earn paid sick days.
New legislation includes:
- New Jersey: After an “unprecedented year” in which seven New Jersey cities passed earned sick days, state lawmakers are readying to advance legislation in early 2015 that would guarantee access to the nearly 1 million NJ workers who still lack even a single paid sick day.
- Oregon: On February 16, the House will hold a hearing on a bill that is expected to pass that would require Oregon employers of all sizes to provide up to seven days of paid sick to their workers.
- Vermont: A hearing in the State Senate Economic Development Committee began yesterday on a bill that would allow Vermont workers to earn seven paid leave days a year.
- Maryland: Passing a statewide paid sick days bill is one of the main priorities for the Maryland legislature this session. The bill has a Senate hearing next week and could be introduced in the House as early as this week. Highlighting the Obama administration’s support for such measures, First Lady Michelle Obama invited the Maryland bill’s sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Catherine E. Pugh, to be one of her special guests at the State of the Union.
- Philadelphia, PA: After the mayor’s paid sick days task force recommended a bill last year, the City Council is set to hold a hearing next Tuesday, February 3rd on a paid sick days bill that could pass as early as mid-February.
- Tacoma, WA and Washington State: The Washington State House Labor Committee is currently considering a statewide bill, and the Tacoma City Council yesterday passed a local bill, making Tacoma the 16th U.S. city to enact paid sick days.
- Chicago, IL: Chicago voters will have the opportunity to send a strong message in support of paid sick days when it appears as a non-binding referendum during a February 24 citywide election. The vote looks to build momentum for legislation introduced last spring, and supported by a majority of aldermen, that would ensure some 460,000 Chicago workers could access paid sick days.
“Voters from every party and every state support paid sick days because they understand these policies are commonsense and touch the very core of family economic security,” said Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values @ Work. “More and more elected leaders see paid sick days as good politics as well as good policy. The trend is only expected to grow as the year goes on.”
In his State of the Union, President Obama called on local elected leaders to pass legislation that ensures their workers can earn up to seven paid sick days, and responding to across-the-board support among voters, they are taking up the call. A recent poll of likely voters showed overwhelming support for paid sick days and other workplace laws that allow families to balance the increasing demands of work and family. Commissioned by Make It Work, a campaign advocating for economic security for working families, the poll showed 88 percent of all voters, and 74 percent of Republicans, support ensuring all workers earn paid sick days. The poll, conducted by Lake Research Partners, was released in partnership with Family Values @ Work and several other groups.
After years of fighting for paid sick days and paid family leave nationally and in cities and states from Seattle to Orlando, from California to Massachusetts, 2014 marked a historic year of wins for the Family Values @ Work network, including a sweep of ballot measures in the midterms. Currently, three states and 16 cities have passed paid sick days laws. Three states have also implemented family and medical leave insurance programs.
Family Values @ Work is a network of coalitions in 21 states fighting for policies that help Americans be good providers and good caregivers.