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This past year, I had the wonderful opportunity to intern with 9to5 Atlanta as a Chapter and Helpline Organizer. I helped chapter staff reach out to members and organize events, and I also answered 9to5’s Job Survival Helpline. Hundreds of women called to ask about their rights in the workplace, and in answering their questions, I realized how precarious the situation of many working families is.

We heard from women who were penalized or even fired for staying at him when their child was sick. They wanted to know what they could do about such an unfair situation. Most of the time I had to call them back and break the news that employees have no legal right to sick days, and employers could, in fact, fire workers for not coming in. In most states, the illness of a child, spouse, or parent can cost a worker his or her job. The law that gives employees unpaid time off to care for their own illness or that of a family member, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), covers just over half the workforce. And FMLA only covers “serious” illnesses, not many routine sicknesses like the stomach flu or a cold that keep you in bed for a day or two.

But it doesn’t have to stay that way. All across the country, groups like 9to5 are calling for laws guaranteeing paid sick days. They argue that caring for a sick child should not cost a mother a day’s pay, and workers should not go to work sick because they fear losing their jobs. I’m proud to work with the courageous members of 9to5 who are standing up for the rights of workers and fighting so that no one has to choose between their family and their job.

9to5, National Association of Working Women is holding a National Day of Action on Women’s Equality Day, August 26, 2011, to support the Healthy Families Act, federal legislation that would allow workers to earn up to 7 paid sick days per year. Beth is now organizing a Day of Action event in Iowa City on Aug 26th. Events will also be held in Atlanta, Denver, Long Island (NY), Los Angeles, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Jose (CA), and Washington DC. To learn how you can get involved, no matter where you live, and download your own Paid Sick Days poster, go to

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