Today, the Milwaukee Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a case about whether to allow Milwaukee’s paid sick days ballot measure, which was passed by an overwhelming majority of city voters, to be implemented. “Milwaukee workers, and the nation, have a lot at stake in this case,” said National Partnership for Women & Families President Debra L. Ness. “We trust that the Court will recognize the integrity and legality of this bill, and put an end to the delaying tactics of business opponents who simply do not want to comply.”
“Milwaukee’s law is a modest, family-friendly measure that is good for workers, good for businesses, good for families, good for the public health, and good for the city,” Ness added. “It is clearly within Milwaukee’s broad home rule authority to enact legislation to protect the health and welfare of its citizens. Extensive research demonstrates that paid sick days will improve the city’s health. San Francisco’s experience is relevant; even former opponents now acknowledge that its paid sick days law has been an unqualified success.”
When Milwaukee’s law is implemented, it will become the third city, after San Francisco and the District of Columbia, to guarantee workers paid time away from work to treat an illness or care for a sick child. New York’s City Council is considering a similar measure, and more than two dozen states and cities nationwide are working to pass earned sick time standards. Congress may consider federal legislation, the Healthy Families Act, next year.
Milwaukee’s law covers private employers in the city. It lets workers earn a minimum of one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, giving full-time employees at large businesses nine paid sick days each year. Businesses with fewer than ten employees will provide full-time employees with five paid sick days each year. Employees cannot use the leave until they have been at their job for 90 days. The law also guarantees paid “safe” days, so those dealing with domestic violence or sexual assault can take time off for violence-related court appearances or other services.
“The reaction of the Milwaukee business community to the modest, family-friendly measure has been little short of hysterical,” Ness said. “The over-heated rhetoric, scare tactics and legal actions are consuming resources that could be better used simply implementing the new law. We all lose when hospital workers with contagious illnesses are forced to care for patients, children with strep throat must go to school because their parents have no paid sick days, and restaurant workers with stomach flu are forced to handle our food. Especially in this recession with jobs so scarce, no worker should have to choose between a job and a day off to recover from illness or care for a sick child. Milwaukee voters are counting on the court to let this law stand.”