Nothing to Sneeze At: State Activity Continues as Federal Support Grows

| Apr 25, 2012

In the past few weeks, we’ve seen paid sick days efforts progress and make headlines in cities and states throughout the country — and support for the federal Healthy Families Act continues to grow in Congress.

In Hawaii, a bill that would guarantee some workers in the state the right to earn paid sick days passed the Senate. The bill’s progress is an exciting starting point for stronger legislation and a more vibrant campaign in the future. It’s encouraging to see groundwork being laid in a state where more than 40 percent of the private sector workforce doesn’t have paid sick days.

The paid sick days campaign in New York City continues to heat up. Earlier this month, two legislators who work on small business issues, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez and Councilwoman Diana Reyna, endorsed the paid sick days bill pending before the City Council. Velazquez is the ranking member of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Small Business Committee and Reyna heads the New York City Council’s Committee on Small Business. Their support reflects the campaign’s growing momentum and the launch of its “Conscious Consumer, Conscious Business” initiative.

In Minnesota, where more than 845,000 private sector workers don’t have paid sick days, a group of former Jimmy John’s sandwich shop workers have secured a major victory in a legal battle sparked by the franchise’s failure to provide paid sick days. As the workers’ attorney explained, “The judge ruled these employees are well within their rights to petition their employer for paid sick days” and that “workers do have the right to speak out about their working conditions and health and safety risks.” The worker-activists who brought suit provide an inspiring example for all who believe that workers should not be forced to go to work sick.

And on the national level, support for the Healthy Families Act has increased to 109 co-sponsors. Eight members of the U.S. House of Representatives have become co-sponsors since the start of year — four of them in just the last two months. They are: Representatives Hansen Clarke (D-Mich.), Michael Doyle (D-Pa.), Janice Hahn (D-Calif.), Steven Rothman (D-N.J.), Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.), Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas), Nydia Velazquez (D-N.Y.) and Andre Carson (D-Ind.). We thank these members for recognizing that workers and their families need the common sense protections that the Healthy Families Act would provide.

State and local paid sick days activity continues, feeding national momentum and support. Stay tuned for more!