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Connecticut Vote Builds National Momentum for Paid Sick Days

First in the Nation Statewide Sick Days Bill

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Lynsey Kryzwick, 917.683.4474, Lynsey@berlinrosen.com

Hartford, CT – At a time when workers are under assault across the country, a broad coalition in Connecticut has successfully advocated for common-sense legislation that will help working families and the economy. With the state House vote earlier this morning, Connecticut moves one step closer to becoming the first state to ensure workers do not have to choose between their financial security and their health or the health of their families. The bill, which passed by a vote of 76-65, will allow workers to earn up to 40 hours of paid sick time a year to recover from illness, access preventive care or look after a sick child or family member. The state Senate voted in favor of the bill on May 25, and Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy has indicated he will sign the bill into law.

The news from Connecticut comes as cities and states across the country consider bills to ensure workers are able to take time off when they’re sick. In less than a week, the victory in Connecticut could be followed by a second win in Philadelphia, where City Council is expected to vote on an earned sick days bill on Thursday. And they’re not alone. A paid sick days bill is set to be introduced in the Seattle City Council as early as Wednesday and could come to a vote by August. And a diverse coalition in Denver is organizing support for a ballot initiative for November. In Georgia, a bi-partisan group of state legislators led by five Republicans is supporting a bill that would ensure workers could use sick time to care for their children and loved ones.

More than a dozen other states have coalitions actively organizing in support of paid sick days and paid family leave policies. San Francisco and Washington, DC have already implemented paid sick days laws.

“We applaud Connecticut state legislators for standing on the side of workers, families and the economy,” said Ellen Bravo, Executive Director of Family Values @ Work, a national consortium of state organizations working for paid sick days and paid family leave policies. “Coalitions of working families are fighting for paid sick days legislation across the country so that taking care of yourself or a loved one will not cost anyone a paycheck or a job.”

“Dr. Martin Luther King famously said ‘the time is always right to do what is right.’ Today, the state legislature did what was right,” said Jon Green of Everybody Benefits Coalition, a member group of Family Values @ Work. “No one should ever have to choose between their health and their income, or between being a good parents and a good employee. Now, hundreds of thousands of low wage workers in Connecticut won’t have to.”

With more than 40 million Americans working without paid sick time to care for themselves or ill family members, many hard-working people are unable to take a day off without fear of losing needed income or even a job. That means workers in jobs that require a high-level of interaction with the public often go to work sick. During the H1N1 epidemic, 8 million Americans went to their jobs with the flu, in turn infecting another 7 million people with the virus.

In San Francisco and Washington, DC, where laws have already been enacted, studies show that workers are healthier and more productive when they have access to paid sick days. The studies also refute the corporate lobbyists’ predictions that legislation negatively impacts job growth and the economy. In fact, six in seven employers surveyed in San Francisco say that paid sick days have had no negative effect on profitability and two-thirds of employers support the law. A growing body of academic research shows the costs of providing paid sick days are extremely small, while the benefits – for employees, employers, and the public – are substantial.

Economists are highlighting job retention policies like paid sick days as a way to support the decline in unemployment, which recent figures show is related to a reduction in layoffs and firings, rather than job creation alone.

“Job retention policies that fight unemployment should be a top priority,” said Eileen Appelbaum, senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research. “Paid sick days legislation would help deter unnecessary firings, and help keep hard-working people in their jobs.”

Coalitions from other states in the Family Values @ Work consortium working for paid sick days legislation are celebrating the win for working families in Connecticut.

“We’re delighted to see Connecticut become the first state to pass paid sick days legislation. Philadelphia hopes to be next in the growing chain of local areas leading the way on this common sense measure to preserve public health and economic security,” said Marianne Bellesorte, director of the Coalition for Healthy Families and Workplaces in Philadelphia and Senior Director of Policy at PathWays PA.

“The passage of paid sick days in Connecticut is a great success for the state and for the entire nation. As the first state to pass this essential policy, Connecticut is paving the way for other states and cities around the country. Denver is excited to follow in Connecticut’s footsteps and provide paid sick days for all workers so that no one has to lose pay or risk losing a job because they have to care for themselves or their family,” said Erin Bennett, Executive Director of Denver 9to5 and director of the Colorado Paid Sick Days Coalition.

“The Seattle Coalition for a Healthy Workforce includes more than 70 community, labor and faith organizations and local businesses. Together, we’ve developed a proposal that offers a responsible and flexible way to ensure everyone has paid sick days — helping to keep people healthy, prevent the spread of disease, and promote more productive workplaces. We’re excited with this win and to see so much enthusiasm about paid sick days, both here in Seattle and across the country!” said Marilyn Watkins, director of the Seattle Coalition for a Healthy Workforce and Policy Director of the Economic Opportunity Institute.

For statements from national leaders on the passage of the Connecticut sick days bill, visit: http://familyvaluesatwork.org/assets/files/Statements%20from%20Ntl%20Leaders%20in%20Support%20of%20CT%20Sick%20Days.pdf

Stories from workers and business leaders are available at: http://familyvaluesatwork.org/blog/2011/06/03/workers-and-business-owners-speak-out-for-paid-sick-days/ .

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