Wednesday, April 3, 2013

NutterWatch: One Day to Ensure Safety for Philadelphians Who Survive Domestic Violence



On March 14, 2013, Philadelphia City Council passed a bill providing the opportunity for most workers in the city of Philadelphia to earn paid sick days. Mayor Michael Nutter has until April 4, 2013, to sign the bill into law or to let it leave his desk unsigned.

Either choice will pave the way for nearly 200,000 workers in Philadelphia to have access to earned sick days for the first time.

Until April 4, or until the Mayor signs the bill, NutterWatch will be here to give you the latest updates and to share the latest stories. To ask the Mayor to sign the bill, you can tweet him at @Michael_Nutter.

Mayor Nutter has just one day left to make a decision on earned sick days in Philadelphia. Over the past week, we've looked at many reasons why earned sick days are important to Philadelphians: to ensure restaurant workers and childcare workers can earn sick days; to promote equality for workers who need sick days to care for their partners; to meet the needs of Philadelphians with autism; to affirm the worth and dignity of Philadelphians; to transcend party lines; and, perhaps most importantly, to continue our rivalry with New York City.

Now, with one day to go, we have a final, and very important reason why Philadelphians need earned sick days: to protect survivors of domestic violence and their families. The Women's Law Project, one of the 110 members of the Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces, explains why:
We know firsthand how important adoption of this bill is to victims of abuse. Through both our telephone counseling service and policy initiatives, we hear from women who are unable to obtain protection orders or seek the assistance of other social services to help them address the abuse to which they are subjected because their jobs do not give them time off for such activities. Unable to risk losing their ability to support their families, these individuals continue to live in fear and suffer abuse without legal protection or other support. Those who take time off from work to address the domestic violence even though they lack leave time, risk loss of employment, destitution, and homelessness.
Except for the domestic abuse hotline and emergency services in Philadelphia, the courts and most social services operate on a 9 to 5, Monday through Friday schedule. While someone faced with imminent danger may call 911 or file a petition for an Emergency Protection From Abuse order at any time, anyone seeking a final order of protection or relief from the criminal justice system must ultimately appear in court during the work week, typically for many hours, and often on a repeated basis. Women seeking such orders have told us they simply could not take more time off from work to return to court again. If the plaintiff does not appear for a hearing, the court dismisses the petition and no relief is granted. This bill, if adopted, will enable victims of abuse to seek legal and other protection....
In conversations with state insurance departments around the country, we have been assured that the number of individuals seeking relief under statutes prohibiting insurance discrimination against battered individuals has been extremely low. In our work in Pennsylvania on implementation of the Family Violence Option, which allows domestic violence victims to be excused from work requirements if domestic violence impedes their ability to comply, we have also seen no abuse. Despite estimates that domestic violence victims make up 40-60% of the TANF population, the number of TANF recipients in Pennsylvania seeking to be excused from work requirements is very small, only approximately 2 % or less of the TANF adult population statewide. Philadelphia’s numbers are even lower, with the percentage of the city’s welfare population seeking work waivers consistently below 1% (Department of Public Welfare, unpublished data April -August, 2007). Just as fears of false allegations of domestic violence have not been realized in these situations, we do not anticipate false claims in this one.
The reasons are the same: battered women want to work and need to work to support themselves and their families. In addition, victims of domestic violence do not easily disclose domestic violence to anyone, let alone their employer: shame and fear of loss of benefits and employment are a strong deterrent to disclosure of domestic violence. Because requesting domestic violence leave requires such a disclosure, we do not expect domestic violence victims to request leave unless it is absolutely necessary for them to be excused from work.
If you think that Mayor Nutter needs to support earned sick days on behalf of families who have survived domestic violence, please let him know by calling his office today at 215-686-2181.


In the News

Yesterday, Yvonne Thomas, who owns a child care center in Philadelphia, published her opinion on earned sick days in The Philadelphia Daily News. She says:
Last week, a new parent from North Philadelphia dropped off her daughter at my day-care. I could see that the child wasn't feeling well and when I asked her mom about it, I could see the sadness and the fear emerge. "I will lose my job if I stay home with her," she told me as tears welled up in her eyes....
I speak not only as a Philadelphian concerned about our families, but also as a business owner concerned about keeping the doors open. I know there has been a lot of talk about sick days and small businesses, and I can say from my own experience that it not only works, but it helps my business thrive. The Institute for Women's Policy Research reports that earned sick days will save Philadelphia employers more than half a million dollars a year. For me, it is central part of my business plan. By offering my staff paid sick days, they know that I value and appreciate them, and it has helped me attract and retain a talented and dedicated staff....
A few paid sick days are not going to make or break any business in this or any other economic climate. City Council has done the right thing, and parents, kids, teachers, workers and business owners need Mayor Nutter to stand up on the right side of this issue. Mayor Nutter, please don't be swayed by the scare tactics of the business lobbyists. Sign the earned sick days bill for Philadelphia families, communities and businesses.

Where in the World is Mayor Nutter?

Mayor Nutter has nothing on his public calendar today (so far).

You can find Mayor Nutter's daily schedule at http://www.phila.gov/mayor/itinerary.html.

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