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No One Wins When Low-Wage Immigrant Workers Have No Paid Sick Days

April 24, 2013
As one of 11 kids in a migrant farm worker family, I toiled in the fields of California’s Central Valley under the bleakest of conditions in the 1950s and ‘60s, before Cesar Chavez’s movement offered us any relief. Getting sick or injured or showing symptoms of pesticide poisoning were not options. If they happened, you just worked through it. “If you don’t want to work, there’s plenty of people to take your place,” the foreman or farm labor contractor would say. Little has changed since then in our country, especially for private-sector workers. When her doctor ordered bed rest for Heather,...
Maria Elena Durazo's picture

People are sick and tired of being sick and tired.

April 24, 2013
"We must move beyond advocating for earned paid sick days, to implementing a culture of self-care in our movement. The lip service that is paid to self-care is not enough, and change can only occur if we take a people-first approach to our work." In March, the Generational Alliance brought together its 22 member organizations that represent national, progressive youth organizations that build power and community for the emerging majority of young people of color, women, LGBTQ folks, and low-income communities. One of the hopes that our members had during the convening was that the Gen...
Carmen Berkley's picture

It's time for basic labor protections for domestic workers!

April 24, 2013
My name is Luz Amelia Arevalo, I am a professional domestic worker in Los Angeles California. Because of economic necessity, my own family -- my own grandchildren -- are far away. I care for the children of my employers, and I grow to love them as I do my own grandchildren. There are many women like me, whose work makes it possible for so many families to thrive in California. But we do the work we do without basic labor protections and certainly without paid sick days. Over the years, I have been sick and hurt and had to work anyway. As a domestic worker, if you don’t work, you don’t get...
Luz Amelia Arevalo's picture

Confessions of a Recovered Waitress

April 24, 2013
The year after I graduated from college I waited tables and worked in retail, just like my parents always wanted. Kidding! Truth be told, I had always envisioned going to law school but hesitated once it came time to send in a deposit. I hadn’t given much thought to the other options I had, and the commitment of so much time and money made me think twice. So after graduating Phi Beta Kappa, I donned an apron and slip-resistant shoes and got down to work. I learned a great deal over the next few months working at a restaurant. My coworkers had mostly grown up in the area and still carried...
Madeline Shepherd's picture

Do you want a sick housekeeper coughing all over your bed?

April 24, 2013
My name is Cathy Youngblood, and I am a hotel housekeeper at the Hyatt Andaz in West Hollywood, California. Those of us who work in hotels come into contact with hundreds of different people from all over the world daily. And of course, some of those folks are going to be sick, whether it is because they don’t want to miss their vacation, or they feel like they can’t cancel their trip for work. But because I work in a union hotel, we have paid sick leave. It is a real comfort to know that when I get sick, I can take the time I need to get better without losing necessary income. Before I...
Cathy Youngblood's picture

Paid Sick Leave: It’s Business-Friendly, Too

April 24, 2013
In most of the developed world, when people get sick or have a sick child, they take a sick day and take care of themselves and their families, keeping their co-workers, customers and clients safe. And they rest comfortably, knowing that getting sick won’t mean they can’t pay the rent or provide their children with needed school supplies. That’s the way it should be. In most of the advanced world, paid sick days are a right that protects working families, while at the same time boosting businesses and the economy. But not in the United States. More than 44 million Americans—42% of the...
Elizabeth Shuler's picture

Against Earned Sick Days? Try Waiting Tables With Torn Tendons In Your Leg

April 24, 2013
For nearly a year, Ariel Kempf was a server at a very busy breakfast and lunch café in Portland when, one day, while playing with her dog on the beach, she tore several tendons in her right leg. She had no health insurance, so she went to an urgent-care clinic where she was told she couldn’t put pressure on her leg for at least ten days and that it might take up to six weeks to heal. She had no sick days. Without delay, she called her coworkers who agreed to cover her next few shifts. She hoped to return in a week or so. But when the busy weekend came around and nobody was available to cover...
Tara Murphy's picture

Paid Sick Days Movement On the Move

April 24, 2013
This article originally appeared in the Huffington Post . Patricia, a home health care aide and 9to5 member from Colorado, attended to a man who is quadriplegic. When Patricia came down with food poisoning, her life unraveled. Her condition progressed to pneumonia caused from the vomit that spilled into her lungs. When her temperature spiked to 104 degrees, she took three days of unpaid leave -- equivalent to a week’s worth of her earnings. After three days, still weak and unable to lift her 170 pound patient, Patricia called in sick for one more day. She was fired. And with the loss of her...
Linda Meric's picture

Without Paid Sick Leave, Mickey Mouse, a Daycare Worker or a Fast Food Server May Give Your Kid the Flu

April 24, 2013
The Florida House of Representatives passed a bill earlier this month prohibiting local sick leave ordinances, even when they have wide popular support. The Florida Senate is currently considering similar legislation. Two Florida Republicans introduced these anti-sick leave bills after an Orange County ballot initiative gained more than 50,000 signatures last fall. The measure would require employers to allow workers to earn up to 56 hours of paid sick leave per year, one hour for every 37 hours worked. Republican lawmakers say they must deny voters the right to decide whether to institute...
Fred Redmond's picture

Paid Sick Leave: A Reform that Makes Sense

April 24, 2013
Paid sick leave would help millions of American families, would reduce the high cost of health care and would eliminate an unnecessary drag on our country’s economic recovery. It’s a common sense solution to a serious problem. Yet Wall Street billionaires and the tea-party politicians who work for them are doing everything in their power to undercut efforts to protect the health of our economy and our families. While most AFSCME members have paid sick leave as part of their collective bargaining agreements, we know that 40 million Americans lack even one day of paid sick leave. Millions more...
Laura Reyes's picture

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