Yesterday brought further evidence of strong support for paid sick days when city councils in San Diego, Calif., and Eugene, Ore., passed ordinances that would guarantee workers access to this basic workplace protection. If the bills become law, it would mean that an additional 300,000+ workers gain the right to take up to five paid sick days a year.
But the future of both bills is uncertain. San Diego Mayor Faulconer has pledged to veto the city’s ordinance, which includes a minimum wage increase. And last week, the county in which Eugene is located passed an ordinance that prohibits cities from passing laws that affect employment conditions, such as paid sick days. We expect the legality of that preemption ordinance to be challenged as an unlawful overreach of the county’s authority.
No matter the outcome, the progress of these bills adds to the momentum around paid sick days we have seen this year. Since January, paid sick days laws have taken effect in Portland, Ore., and Jersey City; D.C. and New York City expanded their paid sick days laws to cover more workers, and for the first time this week New York City workers can start using their accrued days; and Newark, N.J., established the nation’s eighth paid sick days law.
As progress at the state and local levels continues, the evidence showing the immense benefits of paid sick days will continue to grow, making even stronger the case for congressional action. Congress should step up and establish a national standard by advancing the Healthy Families Act.
* Paid sick days laws are already in place in San Francisco, Washington, D.C., Seattle, Portland, Ore., New York City, Jersey City, Newark and the state of Connecticut.