Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Read Our Declaration of Support for Paid Sick Days and Independence from the Mayor’s Veto

At Independence Mall, July 6, 2011

When in the Course of human events, 210,000 workers in the city of Philadelphia have no access to paid sick days, causing them to expose the city and its visitors to infections when employees work while ill, it is necessary to determine some means by which workers can care for themselves and their families in times of poor health without losing their jobs or their pay.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all of humankind faces germs, bacteria, and viruses in the course of their daily lives, and these substances can make people ill even when they take action to avoid becoming sick. As such, when a public policy exists that gives workers the ability to earn the time needed to recover from unavoidable illnesses, and when that time is not freely available from their places of work, it is up to the government to take action on behalf of its citizens.

Such has been the patient sufferance of this city, that over a three-year period, it scrutinized such legislative options as were available, and pored over the research from varied institutions, before bringing such a policy to debate. Over this period, the city has learned the following facts, which are now to be submitted to a candid world:

  • That the number of people in Philadelphia needing paid sick days equals the entire population of Harrisburg, Reading, and Scranton combined.
  • That research shows that paid sick days do not harm businesses, and provide benefits to workers.
  • That workers with paid sick days take a median of three sick days per year and regard this time as an insurance policy against illness..
  • That once paid sick days are implemented, heads of business associations make statements such as “paid sick days ‘is the best public policy for the least cost.’”
  • That businesses save money by allowing workers to earn sick days.
  • That illnesses do spread in the workplace, thereby robbing employers of productivity.
  • That the last thing most families can afford to lose is a day’s pay. 
In every stage of public scrutiny, we have petitioned for the needs of workers in the most humble terms, making concessions and amendments to address the desires of the business community, and being reasonable and responsive throughout the legislative process. Our repeated petitions have been answered with passage of a paid sick days law in the City of Philadelphia by a City Council that listened to the needs of its people and the strong evidence behind this policy. But these petitions have been dismissed by a Mayor who, though supportive of sick days in principle, did not follow the will or the people and the predominant research in making his decision to veto.

We, therefore, the representatives of the Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces and the workers of Philadelphia, Assembled, do solemnly publish and declare our independence from this veto and our decision to pursue sick days through an override vote, through reintroduction of the bill, and by any means necessary until all Philadelphians have access to the time they need to care for the families they love.

Watch Coalition members as they read the declaration in front of Independence Hall

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