New local paid sick leave ordinances build national momentum

Thom Shellabarger |

To heal a broken economy, lawmakers around the country are beginning to realize that working families need to be able to support themselves and their families. Paid sick time is a modest policy that will keep people in their jobs and money in their pockets.

Three cities, Portland, Ore., Philadelphia and New York City  recently passed paid sick leave laws. They join San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Milwaukee and Seattle and provide workers job protection when they are ill.

Last month, the Portland City Council passed a citywide paid sick days law; and the mayor’s signature made Portland the fourth city in the nation to guarantee workers the right to earn paid sick days!

The Philadelphia City Council approved a similar law for the city. Now, advocates in Philadelphia, with more support on the city council, are pushing Mayor Michael Nutter to sign on. Nutter vetoed similar bill last year.

Soon workers in New York City will no longer be forced to choose between their job and their health as the New York City Council is set to adopt a paid sick days policy after a three-year campaign. The New York Paid Leave Coalition (comprised of faith leaders, small business owners and labor unions) pressured 2013 mayoral frontrunner Christine Quinn to support the bill. As Council Speaker, Quinn had not supported the bill until now.

Statewide paid sick time campaigns are active in Massachusetts, Vermont and Washington State. Miami and Orlando in Florida are also working on paid sick leave legislation at the city level.

Click here to learn about why people of faith are calling for better workplace standards like paid and earned sick leave!

Pressing for paid sick leave at the state and local levels have added momentum to our effort to gain a national labor standard to protect workers from having to decide between their job and their health.  Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced the Healthy Families Act (HR 1286/S. 631) in Congress. More than 40 million Americans have no access to paid sick days. The Healthy Families Act allows workers to earn up to seven paid sick days a year to use to recover from short-term illness, to care for a sick family member, to seek routine medical care or to obtain assistance related to domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.

The national campaign is seeking official support. While your organization may have signed this letter before, a new Congress and new legislation means we need you to reaffirm your support. National, state and local organizations are all encouraged to sign by April 26.

Will your organization sign on to the Coalition Letter in support of national legislation—the Healthy Families Act?