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Dasa Kelly's picture

How much do you value the workers of PA?

Each work day, I drop off my 2 year old at her daycare so that I can go to work. They make sure that she is safe, fed, gets exercise, learns her colors, and interacts (nicely) with other children. In other words – what they do is priceless and enables me to provide for my family. Her teachers are part of only 27% of childcare workers who receive paid sick days. It is because they are given this respect as a whole person, as parents themselves, that turnover is low and morale is high. It gives them the will to happily sing “Puff the Magic Dragon” for the hundredth time that week. In other words – their paid sick leave is priceless and positively impacts each family they touch, as well as the economy.

As a woman who was born and raised in Pennsylvania, with a mom who worked fulltime, and who is now raising two daughters while working fulltime,  I know the struggles that parents face each day. We cringe when the toddler wakes at 2am with a stomach bug, we wonder how many days we can let our school aged child go to school with a cough, we skirt by the 24-hour fever rule, and we pray that the antibiotics kick in so we can make an important meeting. And this is with paid sick days.

So, if I have paid sick leave, why do I care if others have it? Well, first of all, because we ALL get sick and we ALL deserve time to get better without worrying about losing a paycheck, or even our jobs.

But even though I have earned sick days, and my kids’ caretakers and teachers have earned sick days that does not mean that my kids are protected, and my family is fine.

The vast majority of workers who are unable to earn a single paid sick days? Low-wage workers who work in the service industry. Did you know that 93% of Philadelphia restaurant employees do not have paid sick leave? In these tough economic times, we do not need businesses losing even more money from high turnover, training new employees, and reduced productivity. Yet businesses lose approximately $160 BILLION each year due to reduced productivity from workers who work while sick. And I certainly don’t want sick childcare workers taking care of my kids, or your kids, while they’re sick.  My job, and the jobs of all working parents, depends upon healthy service providers.

I live outside of Philadelphia, where the city council TWICE passed a bill that would ensure paid sick days for workers in businesses with more than five employees. Bowing to the pressure of big business, Mayor Nutter has vetoed the bill. TWICE! This sends the message to all Philadelphia and PA workers – we don’t care about you! Or the long-term economic and public health of our city.

Rather than trying to block cities like Philly from passing earned sick time, Pennsylvania state legislators would be better served working to pass a state-wide earned sick time standard. Pennsylvania could be on the forefront of this winning issue..

What the PA legislature does with this “preemption” bill sends a clear message to the rest of the country. Will we join the ranks of NYC and DC and CT and Portland and Milwaukee and pass pro-family, pro-business, pro-economy policies?  Will we reap the benefits of job growth, as they’ve seen in San Francisco and Seattle? Or buckle under the high costs of employee turnover and a stagnant job market? Join me in helping to stop the passage of HB 1807. Give local municipalities the right to pass laws that protects their workers. And send the message to the ten states that are also currently attempting to pass preemption laws – we care about our workers, and so should you.

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