This year, we have achieved significant victories in our work to ensure more working people have the right to earn paid sick days. From Seattle to Connecticut, paid sick days standards have gained support and momentum. Now, one state and three cities guarantee workers this basic right. This November, the city of Denver could become the fourth.
On November 1, Denver voters will consider a city ballot initiative that would let workers earn paid sick days to use when they or a family member is ill. Right now, more than 100,000 workers in Denver — 40 percent of workers and 72 percent of food service workers — don’t have access to a single paid sick day. When illness strikes, they must choose between a paycheck and their health, their families’ health and public health. This initiative could help prevent these impossible choices.
Unfortunately, all of the great success and momentum around paid sick days has garnered much attention from opponents. And Denver is their next target. The business lobby and others are determined to defeat common sense paid sick days measures. Major national and local groups have poured money into advertisements and other scare tactics designed to convince Denver voters and local businesses to oppose paid sick days.
But we know the truth: Paid sick days are good for everyone. San Francisco has had a paid sick days law since 2006, and two-thirds of businesses there now say they support the law. They overwhelmingly report that their profits have not declined since its enactment. More importantly, most workers in the city say they have benefited from the paid sick days law. It has given those who need paid sick days the most — including parents and workers with chronic conditions — the time they need to care for their health and the health of their children.
This election, Denver workers and the community have the opportunity to reap these same benefits and improve the health and quality of life for families in the city by approving the proposed paid sick days standard. Denver families deserve it, and voters deserve the right to know all of the facts about the difference paid sick days can make in people’s lives.
That’s why the National Partnership is headed to Denver — to volunteer with the tireless workers and activists who have come together in the Campaign for a Healthy Denver, and to support their effort to inform voters about the need for paid sick days. We will report from the front lines about our work, and we hope you will share our stories and spread the word about this critically important initiative. With wealthy opponents gearing up, we know this will be an uphill battle. We are hopeful that hard work, determination and common sense will prevail.
To follow our updates, check out PaidSickDays.org. We look forward to connecting with you there!
The National Partnership Team in Denver
Rachel, Helen, Katie and Sara