Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

American Workers See Progress On Paid Sick Leave, No Thanks To Congress

January 6th, 2016 | Laura Clawson

LauraClawsonPaid sick leave is high on the list of policies that are popular with the public but won’t become federal law as long as Republicans control Congress. But, like the minimum wage, cities and states and employers and the president can expand paid leave to many workers, and in 2015, some did. That’s good news for workers who won’t have to choose between going to work sick and going without pay they can’t afford to lose—and with half of food workers going to work sick because they don’t have paid leave, we’re talking about not just a lot of workers but many more customers who stand to be infected by people working sick.

Paid sick days have gained a lot of ground in the last few years, and continued to do so in 2015. Oregon became the fourth state to require paid sick leave for most workers, following Connecticut, California, and Massachusetts.

The cities of Tacoma, Washington, and Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, also passed paid sick leave laws. New Jersey cities continued their incredible momentum on this issue, with BloomfieldElizabeth, and New Brunswick becoming the ninth, tenth, and eleventh New Jersey municipalities with paid sick leave laws. Montgomery County, Maryland, meanwhile, is the first county to pass a sick leave law. At the federal level, President Obama ordered paid sick leave for federal contract workers starting in 2017.

Despite all that progress, though, Republicans remain determined to keep workers going to work sick. In Michigan, for instance, Republicans passed a state law to block cities and towns from passing either paid sick leave or minimum wage increases. And their party’s presidential candidates? Ha ha ha.

This blog originally appeared at DailyKos.org on December 31, 2015. Reprinted with permission.

Laura Clawson is a Daily Kos contributing editor since December 2006. Labor editor since 2011.

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