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Ruth Martin's picture

I am so mad right now I can barely sit down to type this.  At this moment I’m home from work with a sick baby. She spiked a fever in the middle of the night, woke up crying and hot with a fever over 101 degrees. She can’t go to childcare today. I’m home with her, writing this while she naps (fitfully, I might add - it’s clear my baby girl is uncomfortable) and I’m able to be at home with her right now because I have earned sick days.  I didn’t have to load her up with Tylenol and send her to childcare and go to work, fingers crossed she’d make it through the day – because if I didn’t send her to childcare I’d lose a day’s pay, or worse – my job.  I’m lucky.

Many people aren’t: Nearly 40% of private sector workers and nearly 80 percent of low-wage workers in the United States have no access to earned sick days. But there is a movement happening across the country to change this. Voters are standing up and fighting for change. We’re pushing for change at the local, state and national level. We’re fighting for change through legislation and at the ballot box – because we know that we ALL get sick but we don’t all have a chance to get better. And we know that earned sick days aren’t just good for public health, they keep people in the jobs we need, and THAT helps the economy.

So why am I so mad?  Over the summer, more than 50,000 petition signatures were gathered from Orange County Florida voters to put an Earned Sick Time measure on the November 6 ballot.

The Earned Sick Time ordinance – which would require employers to allow workers to earn paid time off when they are ill or need to care for a sick family member – was the first citizen-led petition to qualify for the ballot in Orange County history. Historic! Inspiring!

In accordance with the Orlando County Charter, once those petitions were certified last month, commissioners had to either adopt the plan as an ordinance or it would automatically be placed on the November 6 ballot for voters to decide.

But Tuesday night the Orange County Commission failed to vote to place the Earned Sick Time ballot question on the ballot for November, and voted instead to delay consideration – a move that could keep the petition-driven measure off the November 6 ballot – even though more than 50,000 VOTERS in Orange County submitted petitions to have Earned Sick Time on the ballot.

The Orange County Commission's refusal to put the Earned Sick Time measure on the November ballot is voter suppression in its purest form. 50,000 Orange County voters signed petitions asking that the question be placed on the November ballot; the advocates who helped gather the necessary signatures played by the rules for citizen-led initiatives under the Orange County Charter.

Even the Orlando Sentinel, which has opposed the substance of the initiative, editorialized in favor of placing it on the ballot, saying the measure deserved a “fair shot in the arena of public opinion.”

So, yes, I am so mad I could spit right now.   I think about my sweet, sweaty baby tossing and turning and then think about all the moms and dads in Orange County Florida who are trying to make things better for the families being denied the right to vote on Earned Sick Days makes *my* temperature rise.

This is NOT what democracy looks like.  Orange County voters deserve better from their elected officials. If you agree, click here to take action!


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