Thursday, March 31, 2011

Press Release: Jefferson University's James Plumb MD, MPH Promotes Earned Sick Day Bill to City Council

For Immediate Release:
March 31, 2011
Contact:
Lauren Townsend 215-939-7621 (c)

Earned Sick Days Campaign

Philadelphia--Dr. James Plumb, a national public health expert, is deeply concerned about the impact that governmental policy decisions have on his patients in Philadelphia. Plumb is a practicing physician and professor with the Department of Family and Community Medicine and Director of the Center for Urban Health at Thomas Jefferson University and Hospital. He spoke soberly at a news conference this morning sponsored by the Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces held outside the Philadelphia City Council Chambers.

“I am frequently perplexed by the lack of sensible policies that affect the health and well-being of so many citizens; citizens who struggle to make ends meet, raise healthy families, and be responsible employees,” said Dr. Plumb. “In a city with marked racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes, absence of paid sick leave may be an important factor perpetuating these disparities.”

“When employees go to work sick they are less productive, take longer to get well, and risk infecting their co-workers, “ emphasized Plumb. “These workers are often in jobs that require a high degree of contact with the public – like restaurant workers and caretakers of both children and the elderly. Many illnesses are highly contagious and can spread through the workplace quite easily. About 40% of workers contract the flu from a co-worker. Of the 18 million norovirus (stomach flu) infections nationally, ½ come from ill food service workers.”

In his testimony before Council, Dr. Plumb noted that paid sick days allow families to take time off to care for a sick child or elder in the home. When a child or elderly adult in the home is sick, workers are faced with the decision to stay home and lose pay, or go to work and leave a loved one home alone sick and in a potentially unsafe situation.

Dr. Plumb’s comments were echoed by Dina Yarmus and Tiffany Lomax, who shared their own stories as workers fortunate enough to have sick days.

"Restaurant work involves long days on your feet, often doing the work of two people, and the emotional labor of keeping guests happy," said Yarmus, who works at the Radisson Warwick Hotel. "We interact with many different people and their germs everyday. We sometimes get sick.” Yarmus concluded, “The public is better served by a social policy that doesn't pressure working class people to come to work even when they’re sick and talk to you at your tables and touch your food.”

Tiffany Lomax's need for sick days has more to do with her child than her own illnesses. “Earned paid sick days have been a blessing to me and my 14 year old son as he has severe asthma, allergies and a history of seizures. I work full-time and attend night classes at Temple University and will be applying to law school next year, but before I had sick days, I lost three different jobs due to taking time to care for him. This is an important and necessary bill to support because it will ensure single parents and mothers with sick children can remain gainfully employed as I am. Earned sick days have allowed me to manage my son’s health needs as well as maintain my job.”

The campaign to win Earned Sick Days includes a growing coalition of more than 40 organizations that represent thousands of Philadelphia residents. The Coalition is urging swift passage of a bill that would extend the ability to earn sick time to all Philadelphia residents. The Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (Bill No. 080474), sponsored by Council members Darrell Clarke and Bill Greenlee, would do just that. As amended, the bill would:
  • Give all workers in Philadelphia the ability to earn up to nine days of paid sick time per year (five days for small businesses)
  • Allow workers to use that time to care for themselves, their children, and their family members
  • Prevent public health risks associated with sick workers
  • Save employers money due to increased productivity and decreased turnover
The bill passed unanimously through the Public Health and Human Services Committee on March 1. Passage by the full Council is expected later this spring.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Media Advisory: City Council to Hear From Thomas Jefferson University's James Plumb MD, MPH On Why Paid Sick Days are Good for Public Health

Dr Plumb will be joined by Tiffany Lomax and Dina Yarmus who value their employers' earned sick day policies

WHAT: Public Health and Earned Sick Days Press Conference preceding Council Testimony

WHO:
  • James Plumb MD, MPH is Professor with the Department of Family and Community Medicine and Director of the Center for Urban Health at Thomas Jefferson University and Hospital.
  • Tiffany Lomax and Dina Yarmus will attest to why earned sick days contribute to their health and quality of life.

WHEN: 9:30 am TOMORROW/Thursday, March 31, 2011

WHERE: City Hall, 4th Floor, Outside Council Chambers

Background:

Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (Bill 080474) is a bill that would allow workers the opportunity to earn up to nine days of sick time per year, was voted out of the Public Health and Human Services Committee on March 1. The bill could affect up to 200,000 workers in Philadelphia who do not have access to paid sick days.

With over 40 percent of Philadelphians lacking earned sick days, a large portion of the population cannot take the time off work to go see a doctor or obtain medical treatment - regardless of the medical coverage they have.

Employees with earned sick days are more likely to stay home when they are sick, limiting the spread of the illness and protecting co-workers, customers, or anyone else they meet during the work day. During the height of the H1N1 pandemic, people were urged to stay home if they had any signs of the flu, however, those without earned sick days were less likely to stay home because they could not afford to. As a result, nearly 8 million H1N1 cases were traced back to employees going to work while sick.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Public Comment in Favor of Bill No. 080474: Dr. Jerry Jacobs

Philadelphia City Hall south elevationMy name is Jerry Jacobs. I received my PhD in Sociology from Harvard University in 1983. I am a professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, where I have taught for the last 28 years. I have written 5 books, 75 research articles and have received 30 research grants from the National Science Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation among others.

I specialize in an area called work and family policy. I lead an international scholarly organization in this area with over 4,000 affiliates across the country and around the world. My book, The Time Divide, published in 2004 by Harvard University Press, examined work place policies that enable today’s companies and today’s families to work together effectively instead of being at odds with each other.

I believe that the sick leave policy proposed is a modest but very valuable step in the right direction.

  1. Sick leave policies are supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans. One national poll showed that 89 percent of voters -- 83 percent of Republicans and 94 percent of Democrats – favor paid sick days as a basic employment standard.
  2. This is true become so many of us take sick leave for granted. Most professionals and managers have access to paid sick leave as a basic component of their benefits package. Indeed, most workers in most countries are eligible to take paid sick leave.
  3. Nationally, approximately 40 percent of employees lack paid sick leave.
  4. Many in Philadelphia’s service economy lack sick leave. For example, only 26 percent of food prep workers, waiters and waitresses are eligible for paid sick days, and some of these do not have true access because they have not been working with the restaurant for long enough to be eligible.
  5. Sick workers spread germs and get others sick. This is particularly a problem in restaurants and in retail sales where contact with the public spreads disease rapidly.
  6. During the H1N1 epidemic, those who went to work while sick infected an estimated 7 million co-workers nationally.

Evaluations research of the Paid Sick Leave Ordinance in San Francisco shows that the concerns of the critics are unfounded;

  1. The average worker used only 3 paid sick days during the previous year.
  2. Employees tend to treat sick leave as insurance: they consider it a valuable benefit but save it up to use only as needed.
  3. Black, Latino and low-wage workers benefited the most from the law
  4. Most employers support the law and few report adverse effects.

To summarize, the paid sick leave legislation being considered will represent a valuable step to protect Philadelphia’s workers, Philadelphia’s customers, and Philadelphia’s diners, and will not unduly burden Philadelphia’s businesses.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Wisconsin Courts Rule in Favor of Paid Sick Days as Philadelphia Effort Heats Up

"I have witnessed food workers who have gone to work with viral hepatitis infecting salad bars, workers coughing with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, and people going to work with flu like symptoms and fever."
- Dr. Walter Tsou, former Health Commissioner, City of Philadelphia
"Even if I have to use my last breath to get this bill passed, I will do it."
- Barbara Lovelace, Philadelphia resident

PHILADELPHIA -As a great victory for paid sick days in Milwaukee was announced by the courts today, Philadelphia City Council heard stories that should give everyone pause, even if they already have sick days. During today's public comment period, Philadelphians told Council of employees spreading disease to others, of lying alone in intensive care because their daughter could not take off work, and of the overwhelming public support for earned sick days.

"I have witnessed food workers who have gone to work with viral hepatitis infecting salad bars,workers coughing with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis, and people going to work with flu like symptoms and fever." said Dr. Walter Tsou, former Health Commissioner of the City of Philadelphia. "This legislation recognizes that sometimes it is in the best interest of society for workers to stay home. It is also in the interest of society to have a healthy and productive workforce."

For Barbara Lovelace, it was certainly in her best interest for her daughter to have been home when Barbara collapsed in the middle of the street. After going to the hospital and being diagnosed with a heart attack, Barbara entered the intensive care unit. No one knew if Barbara would survive her ordeal - but nevertheless, her daughter was forced to go to work while her mother was in the ICU, or risk losing her job. Barbara is now facing more surgery for her heart, and the potential diagnosis of breast cancer. But, as she told City Council today, "Even if I have to use my last breath to get this bill passed, I will do it."

Across town, church leaders held a briefing for local pastors in the Earned Sick Days bill. Pastors met today to discuss the bill and begin planning for a Paid Sick Days in the Pulpit event in April.

Polls also show strong public support for sick days. "Sick leave policies are supported by the overwhelming majority of Americans," said Dr. Jerry Jacobs, a professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, who also delivered comments today. "One national poll showed that 89 percent of voters -- 83 percent of Republicans and 94 percent of Democrats - favor paid sick days as a basic employment standard."

Studies in other cities show that both businesses and employees benefit from earned sick days policies. Businesses save money from higher productivity and lower turnover, and workers use paid sick leave responsibly and often do not use all of the time offered to them. A study last month of San Francisco's paid sick days law shows many business concerns about job loss were unfounded, with six in seven employers saying that paid sick days have had no negative effect on profitability and two-thirds of employers surveyed supporting the law.

Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (Bill 080474) is a bill that would allow workers the opportunity to earn up to nine days of sick time per year. The bill could affect up to 200,000 workers in Philadelphia who do not have access to paid sick days.

Op-Ed Supporting Earned Sick Days in Philadelphia Inquirer

This boss doesn't mind sick days

By Dewetta Logan

The Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce is fighting a City Council measure that would require businesses to allow their employees to earn paid sick days. Although the past few years have not been easy for area business owners like me, the chamber's contention that a few paid sick days will force businesses to shut their doors is simply not true.
To read the full op-ed, please visit The Philadelphia Inquirer's website.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Media Advisory: Earned Sick Days a Public Health Priority



Earned sick days a public health priority, says former health commissioner

PHILADELPHIA - On Thursday, March 24, 2011, a well-known public health advocate and the Executive Officer of the Work and Family Researchers Network will join the Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces and others in supporting the proposed City Council bill on earned sick days. Dr. Walter Tsou, MD, MPH, the former health commissioner of the Philadelphia Department of Public Health, plans to speak on behalf of earned sick days during the city's public comment period. Dr. Jerry A. Jacobs, Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and Executive Officer of the Work and Family Researchers Network, will also speak on the bill.

Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (Bill 080474) is a bill that would allow workers the opportunity to earn up to nine days of sick time per year, was voted out of the Public Health and Human Services Committee on March 1. The bill could affect up to 200,000 workers in Philadelphia who do not have access to paid sick days.

With over 40 percent of Philadelphians lacking earned sick days, a large portion of the population cannot take the time off work to go see a doctor or obtain medical treatment - regardless of the medical coverage they have.

Employees with earned sick days are more likely to stay home when they are sick, limiting the spread of the illness and protecting co-workers, customers, or anyone else they meet during the work day. During the height of the H1N1 pandemic, people were urged to stay home if they had any signs of the flu, however, those without earned sick days were less likely to stay home because they could not afford to. As a result, nearly 8 million H1N1 cases were traced back to employees going to work while sick.

Dr. Tsou and Dr. Jacobs will be available to make brief comments and answer questions in City Hall at 9:30am before Council Session begins.

What: Public Health and Earned Sick Days Press Conference

When: Thursday, March 24, 2011

Time: 9:30 a.m.

Where: City Hall, 4th Floor, Outside Council Chambers

Who:

Dr. Walter Tsou, MD, MPH, Former Health Commissioner, Philadelphia Department of Health

Dr. Jerry A. Jacobs, Professor of Sociology at the University of Pennsylvania and Executive Officer of the Work and Family Researchers Network

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Letters: A shameful position on sick leave in the city

Please read the whole letter on The Philadelphia Inquirer's website!

The Chamber of Commerce is trying to stop tens of thousands of working Philadelphians - nearly half of the city's workforce - from getting paid sick days ("Business opposes sick-leave proposal," Friday). It is a shameful position that cannot be justified on moral, public health, or business grounds.

All too often, Philadelphia workers must go to work ill because they can't afford to lose a day's pay when they are barely able to make ends meet and support their family. Responsible businesses understand that no worker should have to choose between losing a day's pay and coming to work sick or not caring for a sick child, and that paid sick days don't harm the economy. When workers come to work sick, they're not at their best and they risk spreading their illness to coworkers and others....

Friday, March 18, 2011

Public Comment in Favor of Bill No. 080474

Public Comment in favor of Bill No. 080474
Philadelphia City Council
March 17th, 2011
Kistine A. Carolan
Maternity Care Coalition

I would like to start my statement as an individual. My name is Kistine Carolan and I am a resident of Philadelphia. I left my family and friends and moved here from the Midwest 7 years ago to pursue a Master’s Degree in Social Work. I had every intention to leave upon completion of my degree. However, I fell in love with Philly and so found work in a 6-month internship immediately after graduating. I worked for $12 an hour with no benefits. The only thing I could afford was hope that I wouldn’t get sick.

One morning I woke up with an odd sensation. I brushed it off as sleepiness. Once I got to work though, there was no room for denial. Each co-worker confirmed that, for the first time in my life, I had pink eye. My co-workers and supervisor were eager to get me out of the office, my very pink eyes clearly unsettling them. While I did not formerly have sick time, my organization allowed me the day off to seek treatment. I spent the entire day seeking that treatment. Without health insurance I went to the Health Centers. I am grateful they exist. I spent 6 hours in the waiting room before I had the chance to meet with a doctor for 30 seconds who, not unsurprisingly, took one look and wrote me a prescription.

Most illnesses are not as visible as pink eye but are similarly contagious. The irony is that I would guess that if we became green with the flu and purple with a nasty cold, we wouldn’t be arguing whether to allow sick days. Businesses, especially restaurants, would have some of the most progressive policies on shooing sick workers out the door so they wouldn’t drive away customers. As it is now, however, restaurants do not need to have concern for their customer’s health. The invisibility of sickness is no excuse for allowing ill employees to infect co-workers, vulnerable children and senior citizens they care of, or restaurant go-ers whose food they closely interact with.

As a representative of my employer, Maternity Care Coalition, we would like to stress the positive impact this bill will have on families and, in particular, women. According to national research, working women are the primary caregivers of young children, with four in five mothers indicating that they are responsible for accompanying children to doctor’s appointments. Half of working mothers miss work when their child gets sick. Of these, half do not get paid for that time off. Women continue to receive lower pay than men in equal positions. Moreover, 2/3 of low-wage workers do not receive paid sick days and women make up the majority of that workforce. This data makes clear that the lost pay coupled with increased responsibilities for the health of young children is an unfair burden on the women of Philadelphia.

Children in our city would benefit from this law as well. When children become seriously ill, studies show that they recover faster when cared for by their parents. The mere presence of a parent shortens a child’s hospital stay by 31%.

A vote for this bill is a vote for mothers, children, low-wage workers, and the consumers of Philadelphia. I urge you to immediately vote on and pass the Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces Act.

Kistine Carolan is the Community Engagement Coordinator with Maternity Care Coalition,  a member of the Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces. If you are interested in commenting on the earned sick time bill please email kscully@pathwayspa.org.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Small Business Owners Speak Out for Earned Sick Time

PHILADELPHIA - Small business owners, members of the Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces and a member of the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, shared their support for the proposed earned sick day bill (Bill No. 080474) at a roundtable discussion today. Support is shared by over 20 businesses and 30 Coalition members located throughout Philadelphia. The bill, which would allow workers the opportunity to earn up to nine days of sick time per year, was voted out of the Public Health and Human Services Committee last Tuesday. The bill could affect up to 200,000 workers in Philadelphia who do not have access to paid sick days.

"I want to make sure I have happy, healthy employees," said Lisa Gregg-Alexander, owner of the Whispering Leaves Herb and Sip Shop in University City. Greg-Alexander, a former police officer, recently received a $5000 investment from the Enterprise Center Business Plan Competition for her business plan, which included earned sick time and paid vacation days for her employees. "If you're in a miserable situation, you create misery if you're feeling sick, or feeling down, you pass that on. That's not good for business."

The small business owners who hosted the roundtable included retail stores, restaurants and childcare providers from different areas of Philadelphia. Some of the businesses already provide paid sick days to their employees and others are exploring the possibility.

Square Peg Artery and Salvage owner Jennifer Harrison and member of the Chamber of Commerce held the roundtable at her shop in Center City. Harrison provides earned sick time for her employees and provides additional support for the 260 local artists who sell wares through her shop.

Harrison recounted a story of being a young worker without paid sick days. "I was only 24, and I temporarily lost my vision when I had shingles," she said. "On top of the stress of being sick, I was worried about my job. My boss told me to take two weeks off, but to give him a call in two weeks to find out whether or not he still had a job for me."

New research on paid sick day laws in other cities shows significant benefits for workers and minimal impact on businesses. A study last month of San Francisco's paid sick days law shows business concerns about job loss were unfounded, with six in seven employers saying that paid sick days have had no negative effect on profitability and two-thirds of employers surveyed supporting the law. Other studies have shown that employees are healthier and more productive when they have access to paid sick days.

"Taking care of children is the priority for me and my staff, and we simply can't do our best when we're sick," said Dewetta Logan, owner of the Smart Beginnings Early Learning Center, a childcare center in West Philadelphia. Logan's staff of seven earns five sick days a year. "Providing sick days to my staff is about respect, and it's about smart business."

The Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces is a group of organizations supporting the need for earned sick time in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania.

More information can be found at earnedsicktime.blogspot.com.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Guest Post: Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce Cries Wolf Over Earned Sick Days

Yesterday, the Daily News published an ominous Chamber of Commerce op-ed piece, warning against the earned sick days bill passed out of committee last week. The article prophesized a disturbing mass of unintended consequences: job losses, shuttered businesses, and slashed benefits.

Sound familiar?

It should. Business groups routinely oppose new worker-friendly legislation—from the minimum wage to family leave—with apocalyptic economic rhetoric. The Philadelphia business lobby’s opposition to the earned sick days bill, which would allow workers to earn five to nine annual paid sick days, is nothing new.

Rather than just making fretful predictions, we should look at empirical evidence gathered from successfully implemented paid sick leave bills. San Francisco’s earned sick leave law, which the Philadelphia bill is based on, has received accolades from both employers and workers. Guaranteed sick pay has had no discernable impact upon employment in the city, while profits and benefits have only been marginally affected.

A recent study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR), based on interviews with over 700 employers, shows San Francisco businesses reporting overwhelmingly positive experiences with the new law. Two out of every three firms labeled themselves “supportive” or “very supportive”. The lowest levels of support were found in sectors where paid sick leave was less common before the law, like food service and retail, but even 60 percent of those employers approved of the measure. Over 70 percent reported that the law had no impact on their profitability.

Philadelphia business lobbyists specifically warn that guaranteed sick leave will cost workers benefits and jobs. But the IWPR study found that only 14.1 percent of San Francisco employers reduced compensation and benefits to accommodate the law, mostly through converting vacation days to sick leave (7.1 percent) or reducing bonuses and raises (7.1 percent). These miniscule numbers are well worth the 16 point bump in sick pay coverage the city experienced, especially among food service workers (who represent a danger to public health if they bring an illness to work).

A 2010 study by the Drum Major Institute shows that San Francisco’s paid sick leave law didn’t cause significant job losses in the city either. Despite Bay Area business lobbyist’s doom-and-gloom predictions, the city’s employment level continued to outperform those of the surrounding counties (which include wealthy Silicon Valley)—just as it had before guaranteed paid sick leave. If job killer predictions were accurate, we’d expect to see markedly heavy losses among industries most profoundly affected by the law. But San Francisco-area employment continued to be stronger than the surrounding counties in retail, hospitality and food service industries.

But the Chamber authors argue that Philadelphia can’t be compared to San Francisco. Apparently, we’re a special case due to “a high tax burden”, “a tough regulatory climate” (no specific numbers are mentioned) and unusually high unemployment (Philadelphia’s unemployment rate is little more than a point higher than the national level, just as it has been for the last decade).

That’s bunk. San Francisco’s labor laws are much tougher than any we have in Philadelphia. Their minimum wage is $9.92, well above Philadelphia’s $7.25. San Francisco businesses are required to pay a certain amount towards employee healthcare programs, or face a tax. If the vast majority of San Francisco employers can handle paid sick leave in the face of requirements like these, then Philadelphia business owners will do just fine.

Business owners tend to be small “c” conservative: Afraid of any change and eager to keep conditions stable, and uncomplicated. That’s fine. But we shouldn’t let their status quo bias prevent us from protecting our citizenry.

Jake Blumgart is a Philadelphia-based researcher with the Cry Wolf Project, funded by the Ford Foundation and the Public Welfare Foundation. His work has been published by the American Prospect, the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Stranger, and Campus Progress.

Small Businesses to Hold Press Conference on Paid Sick Days

PHILADELPHIA- Small business owners will be holding a round-table conversation on Monday to express their support for the proposed City Council bill on paid sick days. Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (Bill 080474), a bill that would allow workers the opportunity to earn up to nine days of sick time per year, was voted out of the Public Health and Human Services Committee last Tuesday. The bill could affect up to 200,000 workers in Philadelphia who do not have access to paid sick days.

The small business owners holding the press conference include retail stores, restaurants and childcare providers. Some of the businesses already provide paid sick days to their employees and others are exploring the possibility. Square Peg Artery and Salvage is a boutique in Center City which specializes in selling wares from local artists. Sammiches is a family owned deli and staple in Southwest Philly with two employees. Smart Beginnings Early Learning Center is a childcare facility located in West Philadelphia with a staff of seven employees each having five paid sick days, which is consistent with the requirements of the earned sick time bill.

What: Small Business Press Conference on Paid Sick Days

When: Monday, March 14, 2011

Time: 11:30 a.m.

Where: Square Peg and Artery and Salvage, 108 S. 20th St.

Who: Small business owners from Square Peg Artery and Salvage, Sammiches, Smart Beginnings Early Learning Center

Earned Sick Days Bill Passes City Council Committee!

Tell City Council That You Support Earned Sick Days!

Last week, Philadelphia City Council's Committee on Public Health and Human Services unanimously passed a bill supporting earned sick days for all workers in Philadelphia. With this passage, the bill now moves to consideration by the full City Council.

Members of City Council are already hearing from people opposed to the bill. If you support earned sick days, they need to hear from you as well!

In Philadelphia, two in every five workers have no opportunity to earn paid sick time, meaning they must "choose" between the jobs they need and the families they love. When people have no choice but to work sick, they risk infecting others, especially since the people most likely to be without earned sick days are those that handle our food and those that work with vulnerable populations (like children, the elderly, and the sick).

Let City Council know of your support for workers, their families and their communities by supporting earned sick time.

Earned Sick Time Support Letters

A number of organizations submitted letters to City Council in support of the Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (Bill No. 080474), which would provide all Philadelphia workers with the opportunity to earn paid sick days.

Thank you to everyone who submitted a letter of support and please email us if you would like to submit your own!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Letter to Mayor Nutter from the Philadelphia Chapter President of the Coalition for Labor Union Women

Below is a letter from Kathy Black, Chapter President of Philadelphia's Coalition for Labor Union Women, who has been a strong supporter of the Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces.  Please send your own letter to Mayor Nutter and send us a copy as well!


Mayor Michael Nutter
City Hall, 2nd floor
Philadelphia, PA 19107

RE: Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces, Bill #080474

Dear Mayor Nutter:

On behalf of hundreds of union women and men represented by CLUW, I am writing to urge you to change your position and support the above referenced Bill. While I knew you had raised some concerns about the impact of the Bill, I was still surprised when Commerce Director Greenberger voiced your outright opposition at the recent hearing before the Committee on Public Health and Human Services.

I couldn’t help remembering when you and I were allies pushing for passage of your landmark anti-smoking ordinance. Like your bill, this one protects the health of workers and the public. Like your Bill, this one provides protections for the rights of workers against retaliation. And like your Bill, this Bill represents modest and long overdue social advancement.

Many of the arguments the business community used then to oppose your Bill are the same points they are making today. Given the experiences of other cities and all the other industrialized countries of the world with earned sick leave laws, it is clear that the predictions of extreme financial burden on business are overblown.

Perhaps you remember when Councilman Rick Mariano went on a rant on the Council floor, insisting that Joe Driscoll’s business would collapse and his children would starve to death if your anti-smoking ordinance passed. I challenged Councilman Mariano in my testimony, and you and I laughed about how Mr. Driscoll and his family could move to Ireland, already a smoke-free country, where he had a similar, thriving pub.

We know now that Finnegan’s Wake is alive and well, and that implementation of your anti-smoking ordinance was not the cause of mass business collapse or departure. To the great relief of the public, we can all eat in our favorite restaurants without having our lungs polluted, and we are grateful that those serving us are protected from deadly disease. No one complains except the diehard smokers out on the sidewalk, and they get no support. It’s clear to all that passing that law was the right thing to do.

In a few years, we will all feel the same about the Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces Act. No businesses will have died, but thousands of mothers will have been able to stay home and care for their sick kids without worrying if they can still pay the rent, or if they will have a job to go back to. Contagious disease rates in the city will drop, and our City health clinics will be less crowded. Cities around the country will thank us for having the courage to pass this modest legislation thus making it easier for them to do the same.

Please, Mayor Nutter, take the position on this Bill that is consistent with the values you have espoused in the past. You will obviously suffer no political jeopardy by doing so, and in fact, you will earn the gratitude and appreciation of the 44% of Philadelphians who have no earned paid sick leave, as well as those of us who are fighting for their rights and wellbeing.

Sincerely,


Katherine A. Black
Chapter President



The Coalition of Labor Union Women is a national constituency group of the AFL-CIO, founded in 1974 to address the critical needs of millions of unorganized women and to make our unions more responsive to the needs of their female members, especially women of color. CLUW identifies common problems and concerns of working women and develops action programs to address them.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Accrual of Earned Sick Days

According to the Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces Act, workers in Philadelphia would be able to earn 1 hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. The amount a worker could earn would be capped at 72 hours per year for businesses with 11 or more employees and 40 hours for businesses with 10 or fewer employees.

Below is a chart that shows how much time workers would earn assuming they work for an employer with 11 or more employees.

 According to the bill and its amendments workers would begin to accrue their earned sick time from the first day of employment, however, they will not be able to use that time until they have been employed for 90 days.


The Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces bill creates a limited, regulated standard that would give workers the flexibility to stay home from work when sick or to care for a loved one.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

New Article in The Philadelphia Public Record



AFSCME Presses Hard For Sick-Day Bill

BY KATHY BLACK, Health and Safety Director, DC 47/

With support from a wide range of legislators, businesses, labor groups, nonprofit organizations, and workers, a bill to provide earned sick days for Philadelphia workers is set to move forward in City Council. After a hearing on the earned sick-days bill (Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces, Bill No. 080474) this Tuesday, the Public Health and Human Services Committee voted in favor of the measure, which will now head to the full Council....
In an already-tough economy, workers without earned sick days face even tougher choices. Currently in Philadelphia, two in five workers have no earned sick days, and a majority of employees without this benefit work in food-service and care-giving positions. When workers without earned sick time (or their families) become ill, they must make a choice between the jobs they need and the families they love. Workers who choose to stay home often lose their pay, and are at risk of losing their jobs.

To read the full article, please visit The Philadelphia Public Record.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Go Philly!

(From the Family Values @ Work blog)

"Despite the bleak news coming from across the country regarding budget deficits and workers’ rights, paid sick days campaigns are still providing bright spots in this tough policy year. On Tuesday, after a packed rally and a long but successful hearing, the Philadelphia Public Health and Human Services Committee voted to move the Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces Bill out of Committee. The Philadelphia bill will now go on to consideration by the full City Council."

To see the full post, please visit Family Values @ Work.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Coalition in the News

Neon sign NEWSCheck out these great clips and articles about earned sick days in Philadelphia!

Amendments to Philadelphia Earned Sick Days Bill

GardenStreetBridgeSchuylkillRiverSkylinePhiladelphiaPennsylvaniaOn Tuesday, March 1, City Councilman Darrell Clarke offered a series of amendments to the earned sick time bill being debated in City Council.  Those amendments can be found online, as can an explanation of the changes made.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Paid Sick Leave Advances in Philadelphia

(By Amy Traub at DMI)

Across the nation, the attack on workers’ rights continues to mount: in Missouri, a state senator proposed rolling back child labor laws and reducing enforcement, while legislation to limit collective bargaining rights for public workers moved forward in Ohio.

But in the midst of the grim news and tough defensive battles, some city policymakers are moving in a more positive direction: asserting that what working people hit hard by the recession need is greater protection and more recognition of basic workplace rights. Philadelphia is one bright spot.

On Tuesday, the Philadelphia City Council Committee on Public Health and Human Services voted to approve legislation guaranteeing a small number of paid sick days to every person employed in Philadelphia. An estimated two in five private sector workers in the city currently lack this right. Based on San Francisco’s successful law guaranteeing paid sick leave, the Philadelphia bill would enable low-wage employees to avoid losing wages when illness strikes and they need to care for themselves or their children.

I had the opportunity to contribute testimony at the committee hearing. I spoke after a representative from the city’s Commerce Department, who was taken to task by legislators for failing to provide hard evidence for his claim that paid sick leave would burden businesses and harm Philadelphia’s economic competitiveness. Drawing on a study I conducted last year on paid sick leave in Philadelphia, I offered data on the relative success of San Francisco’s economy in the wake of paid sick leave legislation and noted:
In places where paid sick leave has been implemented, there is a significant divergence between predictions of economic doom beforehand and the actual impact. For example, in San Francisco the restaurant industry trade group initially asserted that the policy would substantially increase small business costs and discourage employment. Yet now that the policy has been in place for a number of years, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association calls the law “successful” and “the best public policy for the least cost,” acknowledging that employees have not abused paid sick leave. A top official at the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, another original opponent to paid sick leave, admitted that “it has not been a huge issue that we have heard from our members about… I don’t think it’s quite on the minds of employers.”

Rather than predicting negative outcomes once again, I suggest that looking at the concrete evidence of how this policy has operated in practice is the best way to predict the impact in Philadelphia.
To read the rest of the testimony, click here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Business and Family Friendly Earned Sick Days Bill Advances

Philadelphia, PA - When a loved one becomes ill, are you forced to choose between caring for them or losing a paycheck, or even your job? People without paid sick days at their jobs often face these impossible choices -- between the work they need and the families they love. Today, Philadelphia's City Council took a step towards giving Philadelphia workers a new choice: the opportunity to earn sick days.

A bill in City Council, Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces Act (Bill 080474), passed out of committee today and now moves on for a vote by the full Council. This bill would give Philadelphia workers the opportunity to earn up to nine days of sick time per year to use to care for themselves or their family members. Workers would earn one hour of sick time for every thirty hours they work. Employees of small businesses (10 workers or less) would earn up to five days of sick time per year.

"The health and livelihoods of all Philadelphians are compromised when working people are forced to go to their jobs when they're sick," said Marianne Bellesorte, Senior Director of Policy at PathWays PA. "City Council took an important step today towards passing a bill that helps workers and businesses in Philadelphia."

Studies in other cities show that both businesses and employees benefit from earned sick days policies. Businesses save money from higher productivity and lower turnover, and workers use paid sick leave responsibly and often do not use all of the time offered to them. A study last month of San Francisco's paid sick days law shows many business concerns about job loss were unfounded, with six in seven employers saying that paid sick days have had no negative effect on profitability and two-thirds of employers surveyed supporting the law.

"When I'm sick at work, I am not at my best and risk spreading illness to my coworkers and the people I protect," said Vendetta Livingston, a grandmother and U.S. Security Associates security officer who protects a downtown law firm. "But I can't afford to lose a day's pay when I'm already struggling to pay the bills and can't even provide for my own grandchildren."

Before the Public Health and Human Services Committee approved the bill, City Council members voted on a number of amendments related to the bill, including changing the amount of time employees must work before using sick days from 30 days to 90 days. The amendments also clarify that businesses offering paid time off equal to or more generous than the minimum standard set in the bill will not need to change their policies to specifically offer sick days.

"Earned sick days are good for business and good for working families and good for the overall health of our community," said Rebecca Foley, Director of Education and Advocacy Initiatives at WOMEN'S WAY. "With amendments that address concerns of the business community, the Council now has a stronger bill to bring to a vote."

After passage in the Committee on Public Health and Human Services, the bill now moves on to consideration by the full Council.

The Coalition for Healthy Families and Businesses looks forward to its final passage and the opportunity for workers to earn the sick time they need to care for their families.

Earned Sick Days Bill Moves Out of Committee

Yesterday, after a packed rally and a long but successful hearing, the Philadelphia Public Health and Human Services Committee voted to move the Promoting Healthy Families and Workplaces Bill out of Committee.

We would like to thank members of the Coalition and all those who have shown support for this bill over the last two years. We have fought hard and have moved one step closer to ensuring all Philadelphia workers have the opportunity to earn paid sick days.

Please contact the members of the Committee to thank them for their vote and remember to thank the sponsors of the bill, Councilman Clarke and Councilman Greenlee.

Moving Forward

While we all need to take a moment to celebrate this victory there is still a lot of work to be done to ensure final passage of this bill. Below are just a few ways you can help:

Write a Letter to Members of City Council
Call Your City Council Member
Sign a Petition
Share Your Story

If you are able to do any of the above please let us know by emailing kscully@pathwayspa.org.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Press Packet Now Online

Looking for information given to the press during today's Earned Sick Days hearing? Check out our new page in the Press Room blog, the Online Press Packet!
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