National Partnership for Women & Families

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From the desk of ... Debra L. Ness

Connecticut Makes History

June 4, 2011 | Campaigns > Paid Sick Days

Today is a great day for workers in Connecticut, and a day that offers hope to tens of millions of workers throughout the country who cannot now earn paid sick time, no matter how long they hold a job or how solid their work record is. After an impressive campaign, steady political leadership and strong advocacy from supporters in the state, Connecticut's General Assembly has passed the first statewide paid sick days law. It's a huge and historic victory for workers in the state and, we hope, the first step in a new wave of progress on this issue.

With Governor Dannel Malloy poised to sign the bill, Connecticut will soon join San Francisco and the District of Columbia in giving workers a well-deserved, common sense right to earn paid sick days. It wasn't a quick or easy victory. We have been working with allies in Connecticut, including the Working Families Organization and Everybody Benefits coalition, for years — conducting research, commissioning polls, testifying, speechifying, editorializing and so much more. Today, we know it was well worth it.

That's because the new law means that hundreds of thousands of workers in Connecticut will no longer have to report to work sick and spread contagion to co-workers or customers. Parents who can ill afford to miss a day of work or risk their job will no longer have to leave sick children home alone or send them to school or daycare where they can infect other children. Cash-strapped working families in the state will no longer have to lose pay — and jeopardize their economic security — when illness strikes.

That's already the case in San Francisco, where a paid sick days law has been in place for more than four years. Today, the San Francisco law is a widely-recognized success; it's even won support from some who once opposed it.

It is time for lawmakers in all cities and states, and at the federal level, to recognize that adopting a paid sick days standard should be a priority. More than 40 million workers in this country — and more than 80 percent of low-wage workers — don't have a single paid sick day to recover from illness or care for their families. That's bad for workers, bad for families, bad for businesses, bad for economies and bad for public health.

We can do better. Connecticut is helping to blaze a trail and show us a better way. Let's hope that lawmakers in other cities and states — including Massachusetts, Philadelphia, Denver, Seattle and New York City — soon do the same.

Connecticut may be the first state to adopt a statewide paid sick days measure, but we are determined that it won't be the last. No worker in this country should have to choose between health and a paycheck or even a job. With this victory in Connecticut, we're one step closer to making that a reality for all working families.


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