Experience Shows Little Reason to Oppose Sick Leave Policies

Protest in Philly for Paid Sick Days

Miami    Gradually the community-labor campaign for paid sick leave in various states and cities is quietly making progress even in the throes of the Great Recession.   Connecticut has passed such a policy statewide.  San Francisco has had a policy in effect since 2007 giving 1 hour of sick leave (usable for a variety of purposes) for every 30 hours of work.  My interest was piqued recently in Philadelphia where a coalition driven by ACTION United and various unions passed a measure last year, were vetoed by Mayor Nutter, and now are ramping up to resubmit the measure with a veto proof majority.

Though the end of the world was forecast by various corporate Cassandras, no such thing seems to have occurred, which may be why the hootenanny around such a measure is being replaced by silent consent or outright yawns.

No small reason lies in the fact that, contrary to business bluff and bluster, when workers actually have sick days they not only do not abuse them as threatened, but in fact they hardly use them at all.  In a report prepared by the federal Center for Disease Control, cited by the Drum Major Center for Public Policy,

Workers with paid sick leave miss, on average, only 1.7 work days a year for illness or injury, according to the 2007 National Health Interview Survey from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

The math is clear – hardly more than a day and one-half per year.  That is hardly burdensome in terms of either expenditure or staffing for businesses, yet a tremendous benefit for workers.  The San Francisco Restaurant Association has in fact called the sick leave plan there, “good public policy,” though they had originally opposed the measure.

So, mum’s the word, but while we keep it quiet, let’s have a big, silent cheer for the progress being made by those still pushing forward on the basic human rights of workers for relief in such humanitarian circumstances as their own or family sickness.

Poverty Rate Soaring in US & Canada

couch surfing

couch surfing

Toronto Erik Eckholm summarized the Census Bureau’s report in a clear but painful way:

“With the country in its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, four million additional Americans found themselves in poverty in 2009, with the total reaching 44 million, or one in seven residents. Millions more were surviving only because of expanded unemployment insurance and other assistance.

And the numbers could have climbed higher: One way embattled Americans have gotten by is sharing homes with siblings, parents or even nonrelatives, sometimes resulting in overused couches and frayed nerves but holding down the rise in the national poverty rate, according to the report.

The share of residents in poverty climbed to 14.3 percent in 2009, the highest level recorded since 1994. The rise was steepest for children, with one in five affected, the bureau said.”

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