New coalition seeks paid sick days

From Real Change News:

Got the sniffles? If your job pays for sick days, you can stay home without losing income. Not everyone is so lucky: In Seattle, roughly 190,000 workers, or four in 10 employees, don’t have that option, according to a new group called the Seattle Coalition for a Healthy Workforce.

The group wants Seattle to pass an ordinance similar to laws in San Francisco, Milwaukee and Washington, D.C., that requires employers provide sick days for employees to take care of themselves or their sick children.

Marilyn Watkins, policy director for the Economic Opportunity Institute in Seattle, said paid sick leave is a matter of public health. Employees who go to work sick spread disease to other workers. At restaurants, stores and other worksites open to the public, they can also make customers sick.

Watkins said that many employers feared San Francisco’s law would harm job growth after it passed in 2006. Data collected since then show that hasn’t happened, she said, and that two-thirds of San Francisco’s employers now support the ordinance.

More than 50 labor and advocacy groups in Seattle endorse the coalition’s effort, including El Centro de la Raza, OneAmerica, the Statewide Poverty Action Network and Real Change.

The group plans to hold a public forum on Wednesday, May 11, 5-7 p.m., at University Christian Church, 4731 15th Ave. N.E., in Seattle, with Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, executive director of Moms Rising. More information is available at seattlehealthyworkforce.org.

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