My name is Tasha West-Baker, I am 34 years old. I am a mother of three, my kids range in age from 15-10. I am a cashier at one of the largest grocery chains in the United States (Safeway); I have worked for this company for the past seven years, which in the grocery industry is a long time.
Thanks to my union (UFCW21) I have good medical benefits and a pension. We are in negotiations right now to protect our health plan and secure that pension. However, one thing that my job still does not afford is the ability to access sick days when I am sick. While the logistics of how our sick time works is fairly complicated. The long and short of it is this, my company does not provide paid sick days when I am sick. Why this important is important because as the sole income earner in household I simply cannot afford to lose a day’s pay. If I am sick a couple days one week that means a 40% pay cut.
What this means is that most often I will go to work sick, actually most of us in this industry at some point have gone to work sick not because we want to but because we have to. For me if the choice is to stay home and get better or be able to feed my family this week, as a Mom there really there is no choice!
There have been many times when I have come to work with a cold and even something as serve as bronchitis, I have come to work with fevers and stomach virus, as you can imagine this is not the image you want of the person handling your produce, your morning cup of coffee, your deli made sandwich, or the money that they count back to you as change. I assure you, when we come to work sick like this it is not our desire to spread our germs or make anyone else sick.
I need paid sick leave that I can use when I am sick! This will not just benefit me but also my family and yours. Help me and others like me continue to provide you with excellent customer service by giving us time to get better so that we don’t make others sick. A healthy work place is a good work place.