Tag Archives: ACTION United

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.


Liberia, Fusion, Comcast, Cox, and Times-Warner

George Kieh, spearheading ACORN International's Liberia project, holding a copy of Global grassroots, and Wade

Philadelphia   The uncharacteristic Spring heat wave was broken by some rain making a predawn walk to Clark Park both invigorating and something of a relief.  After a couple of hours of conversation “catch-up” with Craig Robbins of ACTION United, we met with George Kieh to make plans to build an organization for Liberians in both Monrovia, Liberia, and in the concentrated communities in the United States.

ACORN International’s partnership with George is fascinating, because we are discussing a way that we could both build organization in New Jersey and Pennsylvania among Liberian expatriates which would provide representation, advocacy, and support services to them as well as create financial support for organizing in Liberia itself.  Simultaneously, we are creating the infrastructure and training program to begin building membership based community organization in Liberia itself that we can link in Africa to our organizing in Kenya.  The work follows the plan, and we id good work around Craig’s kitchen table outlining the setps we need to move forward.

On the way to a meeting with the ACTION United staff about our Comcast campaign I finally also understood better the Working Family Party strategy in Pennsylvania as well.  Fortunately they seem to be more aggressively committing to building an independent party and in Pennsylvania they have the added benefit of being able to use fusion in lower level contests like school board races and judicial contests, which could help crystallize support for the party efforts.

For the main event we spent a couple of valuable hours getting to do some face-to-face planning and brainstorming around our joint campaign alliance attacking the digital divide and trying to force the Philly-headquartered Comcast to finally comply with the FCC order in its acquisition of NBC/Universal and provide the $9.95/month plan and access to low cost computers.  We discussed a number of tactical options for wrenching up the pressure in coming weeks.  Not only are there various opportunities for actions, but the work being done by Local 100 with our Head Start employers who are joining our campaign in Houston, Shreveport, and Little Rock to obtain coverage for employees and clients of the program.  Recently these partnerships have brought Comcast back to the table for several meetings in coming weeks.  There was consensus that the campaign now has to also spread to Cox and Time-Warner to see if we can get them to deliver on their commitments and do a better job than the miserable performance Comcast has delivered thus far.  One of the organizers also noticed that Cox is now rolling out a national low-cost plan, which might also provide a partner for us to more effectively lower the digital divide.  Focus, focus, focus seems to be what we need to achieve now, since opportunities abound.

If I been in Philly more a full 24 hours, who knows what we might have been able to get done!

Wade and Craig Robbins, Director of ACTION United