STATEMENT OF KRISTIN ROWE-FINKBEINER, Executive Director and CEO, MomsRising, On the Introduction of the Healthy Families Act
February 12, 2015
Healthy Families Act Would Benefit Moms, Families, and Businesses
“On behalf of our more than one million MomsRising members across the country, I applaud U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro and U.S. Senator Patty Murray for re-introducing the Healthy Families Act (HFA) today.
“The numbers don’t lie: Advancing paid sick days boosts our families and our economy. The time is right in our nation for this policy to move forward. Yet the astonishing fact is that in this day and age, 40% of private sector workers and 80% of low-wage workers can’t earn a single paid sick day. This fact is even more appalling given that access to paid sick days is proven to save funds and is a basic workplace protection in most other nations.
“No one should ever have to choose between going to work sick (and risk infecting coworkers and customers) or staying home and losing an invaluable day’s pay, or losing his or her job. For the typical family, just 3.5 days without pay is equivalent to losing an entire month’s grocery budget.
“Paid sick days are a win-win. Studies show that access to paid sick days policies improve public health, family economic security, and the economy. They keep people in the jobs they desperately need and save employers money because offering earned paid sick days is much less expensive than the cost of replacing workers. In fact, our national economy also takes a beating when workers go to work sick; costing us roughly $160 billion a year in lost productivity.
“I am especially pleased to see my home-state U.S. Senator Patty Murray of Washington as a key leader in this fight. Our state is at the forefront of efforts to implement paid sick leave. Both Seattle and Tacoma passed paid sick days legislation and the state legislature is taking it under consideration. This is a standard that the U.S. Congress should surely follow.
“Now, with legislation like the HFA, our national public policy can begin to catch up with what cities like Seattle and Tacoma and many more, as well as states like Massachusetts and Connecticut, have already implemented. Modern women, working families, businesses and our economy all need paid sick days to thrive.”
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Statement of MomsRising Member Rebecca Feibel on the Introduction of the Healthy Families Act
February 12, 2015
Good afternoon. I would like to thank Sen. Murray, Congresswoman DeLauro, and our partner organizations for the opportunity to speak to you here today. My name is Rebecca Feibel and I am a mom of two- Joey, age 8 and Charlie, age 6. I'm also a proud MomsRising member from Odenton, MD. I am here today because I can offer the perspective of someone who has seen how lack of paid sick leave affects not only families but also the broader community, particularly child care providers as well as the children in their care. I urge Congress in the strongest possible terms to consider my story and act quickly to pass the Healthy Families Act.
For 16 years I worked with children ranging from 2-16 years old and saw firsthand the high price that parents, children and child care givers must pay when people don't have paid sick days. That “price” is steep and harms both the financial and physical well-being of all involved.
My career in child care has included being director of a daycare center and working in before- and after- school programs. It's no surprise to me to hear that so many Americans lack the basic work place protection, and basic human right, of paid sick leave. I have seen parents forced to take their very ill children to daycare because they had no access to paid sick days. Parents who could not afford to miss a day’s pay.
There's one incident at the daycare I directed that will stay with me forever. A four-year-old girl was sent to daycare with pneumonia. As she grew worse throughout the day we realized that she would need to be taken to the hospital by ambulance. We tried to reach the parents for authorization to take her to the hospital, but they did not have access to phones at their workplaces. Eventually the child’s doctor provided authorization. But this never had to happen. If one or both of her parents had had paid sick leave they could have stayed home and cared for her and taken her to the emergency department themselves, rather than being at work and inaccessible. That child suffered not only from a serious illness, but also from the frightening prospect of an ambulance ride and hospital visit without her family. What's more, by bringing untreated pneumonia into the day care facility, we were all put at risk.
This issue of paid sick leave transcends industries and job classifications. My sons’ father and I even dealt with it in a “white collar” job situation. He is now with the government, but previously worked in the procurement office for a private federal contractor that didn’t offer paid sick time. I had a very serious case of the flu but still had to be the sole caretaker for our two small children because we couldn’t afford for him to take off work without pay. This made my recovery very difficult and it certainly was not ideal for our children to be cared for by a seriously ill parent. Many people assume that white collar jobs all offer good benefits, but that isn’t always the case.
I am glad that my home state of Maryland is taking up paid sick days, and I hope they pass it quickly. But it's not enough to rely on the states to get this done. We ALL get sick, and we ALL deserve the time we need to get better. Access to paid sick days shouldn't just be a matter of geography; we need a national paid sick days law. Based on my experiences, I fully support the Healthy Families Act and I urge Congress to take up and pass this important legislation to help boost our families and our nation’s economic security.