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A Major Victory for D.C.

Cross-posted from the National Partnership for Women & Families.

D.C. added to the momentum around paid sick days that began last year and will continue in 2014 when Mayor Gray signed a measure to expand the District’s paid sick days law to cover an additional 20,000 tipped restaurant and bar workers. This is a major victory for D.C. workers and their families that will improve public health and support the local economy.

The Earned Sick and Safe Leave Amendment Act ensures that a segment of the workforce that is critical to the District’s economy and overall health – those who work in bars and restaurants – will finally have the protection of the District’s 2008 paid sick days law. It will also allow all workers in the District to accrue paid sick days immediately and begin using them after 90 days on the job, eliminating the requirement that they be at a job for one year and 1,000 hours. This is the first time that existing paid sick days legislation has been strengthened to ensure all workers have the protection they need.

This victory was made possible by the dedicated Paid Sick Days for All coalition and the D.C. City Council. We commend Mayor Gray for signing this bill into law. With the deadline for him to sign a minimum wage increase fast approaching, we hope he will continue to show his commitment to the well-being of the District and its families by ensuring that it becomes law as well. All workers need and deserve a living wage and family friendly workplaces.

A Strong Start to 2014 for Working Families

Cross-posted from the Huffington Post.

2013 was a year of great progress for America’s working families. Laws guaranteeing people the right to earn paid sick days were passed in Portland, Oregon, New York City and Jersey City, New Jersey. Rhode Island passed the nation’s third paid family leave program. We saw new attention and support for work and family policies around the Family and Medical Leave Act’s 20th anniversary, which led to a new federal paid family and medical leave proposal, the Family And Medical Insurance Leave (FAMILY) Act. And much more.

Building off of the victories of last year, 2014 is off to an equally strong and promising start. In fact, America is already more family-friendly. That’s because Rhode Island‘s family leave insurance program took effect January 1, ensuring the state’s residents can take up to four weeks away from their jobs with some pay to care for a seriously ill family member or to bond with a new child. And in Portland, Oregon, more than 120,000 workers now have the right to earn job-protected sick days as the city’s sick days law also took effect at the start of the year.

And the minimum wage increased in 13 states and four cities on January 1. This is great news for working families and the country: “Ensuring women and all workers are paid fairly and well enough to keep food on the table and their families out of poverty is essential to the well-being of our nation,” as noted in our press release.

But that’s not all. There is even more progress toward a family-friendly America on the horizon as more laws take effect and state and local campaigns continue. In the coming weeks, we anticipate the expansion of D.C.’s paid sick days law to cover tipped restaurant and bar workers. Later this month, Jersey City‘s sick days law will take effect. And in April, more than one millionNew York City residents will gain the right to earn sick days as that city’s law takes effect. These advances will make a tremendous difference for families and communities.

They also help pave the way for the national family-friendly workplace standards the country needs, such as the Healthy Families Act and the FAMILY Act. The Healthy Families Act would establish a national paid sick days standard, and the FAMILY Act would establish a national paid family and medical leave insurance program modeled on programs already in place in California, New Jersey and, as of January 1, Rhode Island. Both laws are urgently needed.

As Congress prepares for the New Year, it should recognize the momentum around and demand for family-friendly workplace policies we saw throughout 2013 and prioritize passage of the Healthy Families Act and the FAMILY Act. When it does, working people across the country will no longer have to worry that one case of the flu, the birth of child or a serious illness will mean the loss of critical income or their families’ economic security. And America’s residents, businesses and economy will be better off.

D.C. Poised to Strengthen Paid Sick Days Law

Cross-posted from the National Partnership for Women & Families.

It’s a good day for D.C. Today, the City Council voted unanimously to strengthen the District’s paid sick days law to cover more workers – a move that will help D.C. workers and their families, support local businesses and strengthen the economy. Mayor Gray should sign the bill into law right away.

The Earned Sick and Safe Leave Amendment Act would amend the District’s existing paid sick days law to enable tipped restaurant and bar workers to earn up to five paid sick days per year. These workers had been excluded from the law, despite obvious harmful consequences for public health. According to a 2011 survey of more than 500 D.C. restaurant workers, 59 percent say they have gone to work sick.

The bill will also allow all workers to accrue paid sick days immediately, and begin using them after 90 days on the job, eliminating the requirement that they be at a job for one year and 1,000 hours.

We learned this summer that D.C.’s paid sick days law has been a big success in increasing the number of people with paid sick days in the District, but it still leaves too many workers behind, unable to earn the paid sick time they need. The bill the Council advanced today would fix that, allowing an additional 20,000 workers to earn the paid sick days they need.

It is also great news for the District that the Council passed an overdue increase in the minimum wage. This is a major victory for low-wage workers in one of the country’s most expensive places to live. We urge the Council to prioritize an increase in the tipped minimum wage, which is urgently needed as well.

We commend the dedicated Paid Sick Days for All coalition and all Council members who are committed to realizing the full promise of the District’s paid sick days law. Today’s action adds to the momentum for paid sick days and other family friendly policies we have seen throughout the country this year. We look forward to adding this victory for D.C.’s working families to the list.

New Map: The Preemption Trend Continues

Cross-posted from the National Partnership for Women & Families.

Across the country, support for paid sick days continues to grow. In 2013 alone, Portland, Ore., New York City and Jersey City, N.J., established common sense standards that will collectively benefit millions. Meanwhile, opponents continue trying to thwart paid sick days efforts through “preemption” – state-level legislation designed to prevent cities and counties from passing paid sick days standards and other workplace protections.

At the National Partnership, we have been closely following this dangerous trend. We recently released a comprehensive mapthat tracks paid sick days preemption efforts across the country. It is a disturbing look at the reach and power of a few well-organized and well-funded big business interests that are determined to block paid sick days and other standards that would help working people. Nowhere is this more apparent right now than in Pennsylvania.

Since 2011, there has been overwhelming support for establishing a paid sick days standard in Philadelphia. In fact, as a result of the tremendous work of a broad-based coalition of workers, advocates, businesses and lawmakers, the City Council has twice passed a proposal that would do just that. Unfortunately, the mayor vetoed it – despite 90 percent of the city’s voters saying they support the measure.

Now, Pennsylvania Representative Seth Grove is pushing House Bill 1807, which passed the state’s House Labor and Industry Committee on Monday. H.B. 1807 would ban residents and lawmakers in Philadelphia and other jurisdictions in the state from establishing paid sick days standards. In Philadelphia, this effectively ties the hands of the coalition and the City Council. As Councilmember Bill Greenlee said: H.B. 1807 is “unfair… not just to the city of Philadelphia, but to any municipality that thinks the issue is important to its locale.”

As I’ve written before, preemption is not a new or aboveboard tactic. It is becoming increasingly clear that efforts to pass them are part of a well-orchestrated power play by corporate interests that are out to stymie momentum for common sense public health and economic justice policies. On the paid sick days front, they have succeeded in nine states and, as our new map shows, have their sights set on several more.

The good news is that these preemption efforts have not – and will not – deter paid sick days campaigns. Instead, they strengthen workers’ and advocates’ commitment to expanding access to paid sick days – and they make the need for national standards, like the Healthy Families Act, that much stronger. Paid sick days proposals will continue to advance and preemption will continue to be exposed as underhanded and harmful.

In the meantime, you can help in Pennsylvania. If you live in the Keystone State, urge your state House member to vote against H.B. 1807 today. Tell her/him that city residents and lawmakers should decide if paid sick days standards are right for them. If you don’t live in Pennsylvania, share this post with someone who does.

Newark Continues the Paid Sick Days Momentum

Cross-posted from the National Partnership for Women & Families.

Just last week, Jersey City became the first city in the Garden State with a paid sick days law. Now, the Newark City Council has taken a critical step toward doing the same in the state’s largest city. This exciting news adds to the paid sick days momentum in New Jersey and across the country. Newark would be the seventh city and eighth jurisdiction in the nation to have such a law.

The Newark ordinance, which was introduced last night, will ensure that nearly all workers in the city can earn the paid sick days they need. People who work in small businesses with 10 or more employees and those who work in food service, child care and direct care would be able to earn up to five paid sick days a year. People who work in smaller businesses would be able to earn up to three paid sick days a year.

There are currently 38,000 people in Newark who cannot earn paid sick days, which means they are forced to choose between their health or their families and their economic security when illness strikes or caregiving needs arise. More than one million people in New Jersey are faced with the same impossible choice because they, too, cannot earn a single paid sick day.

That is why the victory in Jersey City last week and progress in Newark last night are so important – they help pave the way for the state standard New Jerseyites need. And, eventually, they will lead to a federal standard that ensures all workers have this fundamental right. The Newark City Council should recognize the tremendous and widespread benefits of paid sick days and prioritize approval of this common sense measure right away.

It’s Official: Jersey City Will Guarantee Paid Sick Days

Cross-posted from the National Partnership for Women & Families.

This morning, surrounded by workers, advocates and small business owners, Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop signed the nation’s seventh paid sick days law, securing the city’s position as a leader for working families and ensuring that, soon, more than 30,000 people will no longer have to worry about losing their jobs when they get the flu, a child has strep throat or other health needs arise.

When the law takes effect next year, Jersey City workers at businesses with 10 or more employees will have the right to earn paidsick days, and workers at smaller businesses will have the right to earn unpaid but job protected sick days. This law is a tremendous victory for Jersey City, its families and communities – and it brings us one step closer to the day when all workers have this basic right.

Jersey City now joins San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Portland, Ore., New York City and the state of Connecticut in establishing a paid sick days standard. As momentum around this common sense policy continues, we look forward to the passage of more paid sick days laws in New Jersey and across the country. They will pave the way for the federal standard the nation has long needed.

Jersey City Poised to Establish the Nation’s Next Paid Sick Days Law

Cross-posted from the National Partnership for Women & Families.

Tonight, the Jersey City Council overwhelmingly approved a measure to guarantee workers can earn sick days, demonstrating its commitment to the city and its residents – and positioning the city to be the sixth in the nation to establish this fundamental and common sense right.

The proposal now goes to one of its strongest supporters, Mayor Fulop, to be signed into law. When he signs this bill, he will secure the city’s position as a leader for working families, and pave the way for the state standard more than one million New Jerseyites urgently need.

This victory adds to the growing momentum around paid sick days policies in New Jersey, in other cities and states, and at the federal level. Paid sick days campaigns are active from Tacoma, Washington, to our nation’s capital, and support continues to grow.

Every member of the Jersey City Council who voted for this bill, Mayor Fulop who advocated for it, and the coalition of organizations, workers and businesses who stood up for it, should be proud. This bill’s success is terrific news for Jersey City, the state of New Jersey and the country.

One Year Later: A Stronger Seattle

Cross-posted from the National Partnership for Women & Families.

Seattle’s paid sick days law was signed two years ago today, and a new report reveals some great news about the strength of the city’s job market and its businesses since the law took effect one year ago.

The report, Paid Sick Days and the Seattle Economy, was released by the Main Street Alliance of Washington. It looks at economic data for Seattle, King County, Washington state and the nation as a whole in the year following the September 2012 implementation of Seattle’s Paid Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance. It pays particular attention to food service and retail businesses because it was expected that they would be disproportionately impacted by the law.

The results are terrific. The Seattle metropolitan area’s businesses and economy are doing better than they were before the law. According to the new report, the county in which Seattle is located, King County, is recovering from the recession at a faster pace than the state of Washington and the nation as a whole. In addition:

  • Its unemployment rate is lower than the unemployment rates of the state or the country; in July, it was 5.1 percent, compared with 6.9 percent for the state and 7.4 percent for the nation.
  • The number of food service and retails jobs has increased. There are 3,200 more bar and restaurant jobs and 7,200 more retail jobs in King County when compared to the same period the year prior.
  • During the first two quarters following the law’s implementation, the county added 925 new businesses, including 142 in retail and 13 in food service.
  • Seattle has maintained or slightly increased its share of King County firms and sales, meaning employers are staying in the city.
  • And the Seattle area’s inflation rate is lower than it was the year before the paid sick days law took effect.

These findings point to a clear conclusion: Seattle’s paid sick days law has not caused any harm to the city, despite its opponents’ doomsday predictions. Businesses have not drastically cut jobs, fled the city, or raised prices for consumers. As is the case with similar laws across the country, the sky has not fallen. In fact, the local economy and businesses are stronger.

This conclusion is consistent with studies of similar paid sick days laws in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. – the two cities that paved the way for Seattle. In the years following implementation of San Francisco’s law, job growth in the city was consistently higher than surrounding counties. And this summer, an audit of D.C.’s law found that it has not had an adverse effect on businesses.

As lawmakers from Tacoma, Washington, to Jersey City, New Jersey, consider paid sick days laws, they should look at Seattle’s experience. The number of cities that have established this common sense standard continues to grow, and the evidence is in: Paid sick days benefit workers, their families, businesses and economies.

Time to Strengthen D.C.’s Paid Sick Days Law

Cross-posted from the National Partnership for Women & Families.

The D.C. City Council made history in 2008 when it passed the nation’s second paid sick days law, guaranteeing workers the right to earn sick time. Today, thanks to a hardworking, dedicated coalition, and action by Council Chairman Phil Mendelson and others, the Council has a chance to build on the law’s unqualified success and help realize its full promise.

That’s because the Earned Sick and Safe Leave Amendment Act – a bill that would strengthen and expand D.C.’s existing paid sick days law – was introduced today. It would benefit families, businesses and the local economy tremendously.

This summer, an audit of D.C.’s paid sick days law showed that it has been a big success: Access to paid sick days has gone up, and there have been no adverse effects for businesses, which belies predictions by the law’s opponents. This is great news.

But the audit also revealed that too many workers still cannot earn the paid sick days they need. That’s because too many employers are not complying with the law, too many workers are not yet eligible to earn the time they need, and too many workers simply are not covered by the law’s protections, including tipped restaurant workers and bartenders.

D.C.’s economy depends, in part, on its more than 2000 bars and restaurants, yet many of the 48,000 workers they employ cannot earn paid sick days. According to a 2011 survey of more than 500 D.C. restaurant workers, 59 percent say they have gone to work sick. This can have serious consequences for the public health.

Since the D.C. City Council last considered and approved paid sick days, much has changed and a number of other jurisdictions have done the same. The results, data and research are clear: Paid sick days benefit workers, families, businesses, the public health and local economies.

It is time for D.C. to build on the historic step it took four years ago. By expanding access to its paid sick days law and improving enforcement, D.C. will strengthen the financial stability and well-being of its families, businesses and economy – and the District of Columbia will remain a leader on this important issue.

Jersey City Takes a Great Step Toward a Sick Days Standard

Cross-posted from the National Partnership for Women & Families.

Tonight, members of the City Council in Jersey City, New Jersey, took an exciting step toward guaranteeing all workers in the city have the right to earn sick days. This means that the city could soon become the sixth in the nation to have a sick days standard, which is great news for the city, the state and efforts across the country to ensure all workers have this basic right.

More than 30,000 people in Jersey City – and approximately 1.2 million people in the state of New Jersey – cannot earn a single paid or unpaid sick day when they get the flu or other common, often contagious illnesses. As a result, too many are forced to choose between staying home and the loss of the job or the paycheck they need to buy basic necessities like food and gas.

That is why the ordinance being considered by the Jersey City Council is so important. It would guarantee that workers in businesses with 10 or more employees have the right to earn paid sick days, while workers in smaller businesses have the right to earn unpaid days. It will also help to pave the way for the statewide standard New Jersey needs, and a broad-based coalition is working hard to advance.

The good news is that Mayor Fulop is a strong champion of the sick days proposal in Jersey City, calling it a matter of “basic human dignity.” He recognizes the importance of sick days for working families, the public’s health and the local economy. With his leadership, we look forward to Jersey City joining San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Portland, Ore., New York City and the state of Connecticut in leading the way toward a more family friendly America.