Tagged as earned sick leave

RSS

Members Lead Fight for Maryland Earned Sick Leave Bill

A team of Local 400 members played a pivotal role in winning passage of the Healthy Working Families Act in Maryland.

Local 400 Shop Stewards Darlene Butler-Jones and Bill Osborn had never gone to Annapolis to meet with their state legislators, testified before the Maryland General Assembly or spoken out at rallies before. So when they were asked to help lead Local 400’s campaign to pass the Healthy Working Families Act, they were a bit taken aback. But after four months of working full-time to make paid leave a right for all Maryland workers, they were fired up and thrilled with the results.

“I wouldn’t trade it for a dime,” said Darlene, who is a meat cutter at Giant #347 in Largo. Bill, a dairy clerk at Giant #339 in La Plata, echoed her sentiments, saying, “It was a really enriching experience.”

Darlene, Bill and three of their Local 400 brothers and sisters played a pivotal role in winning passage of the legislation by a 29-18 vote in the Senate on March 16 and an 87-53 margin in the House on April 7. The bill would allow full-time and part-time workers at Maryland employers with 15 or more employees to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked, up to five full days per year for full-time workers, benefiting more than 510,000 Marylanders who are currently unable to earn paid sick leave.

Darlene Butler-Jones (left) poses for a photo with a fellow Local 400 member. Darlene was part of a team of union members gathered support for the Healthy Working Families Act in Maryland.

For Darlene, this was personal. “When I started work at Giant 20 years ago, I was widowed with young children,” she said. “I had no sick leave. When my children came home with bumps and bruises or when they got sick, I had to choose between their health and my paycheck. That’s a position no one should ever be placed into.”

Bill Osborn testified about the challenges the single mothers he works with face. “I see them struggle when their kid is sick,” he said. “If they can’t take their kid to day care, how do single parents make it if they don’t have paid leave?

“It’s only fair to have paid leave,” Bill said. “Employers owe it to their employees.”

Darlene and Bill were invigorated by their experience. “It’s been very educational because I’ve learned a lot—I didn’t know how long and tedious it is to get a law passed,” Darlene said. “But it’s rewarding, too—you get to meet people from all walks of life telling their stories. You realize how sick leave and a higher minimum wage means so much and makes people better citizens and more productive workers.

“Today, I can tell my 12-year-old granddaughter, ‘When you go to work, you’ll have paid sick leave, and you can know that your grandmother and her friends were a part of making that happen,’” she said.

“From the very first day, the first rally in Annapolis, we learned the process,” Bill said. “We encouraged our members to support the bill. We canvassed door to door in certain areas. We sat in on a lot of the committee meetings and legislative sessions. Each of us testified and talked about how it affected us.

“It was so satisfying knowing we were there from right at the beginning to all the way when the bill was sent to the governor,” he said. “It was inspiring and it motivated me to be more involved in other bills and to take steps in our union to help others understand the process.”

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) has threatened the veto the Healthy Working Families Act. Darlene, Bill and the three other team members are mobilizing public pressure on Hogan to sign the bill, but if he vetoes it, they’ll fight to get the House and Senate to override his vetoes. If no senator and delegate changes his or her vote, then the override will be successful and the bill will become law.

“If he vetoes it, I’ll be right back doing this all over again,” Darlene said.  “Without a doubt. Call me and I’ll be there.

“Each and every Local 400 member should get out, stand up for themselves, learn about politics and don’t be afraid to talk,” she added. “That’s the real lesson of this experience.”

New Law Guarantees Eight Weeks of Paid Leave for New Parents in D.C.

Photo via Pexels

Starting in 2020, D.C. workers can take up to two weeks of paid sick leave, six weeks paid time off to care for sick loved ones and eight weeks of paid time off for new parents

In a landmark victory for workers in the nation’s capital, the District of Columbia has enacted universal paid leave legislation, providing one of the nation’s most progressive packages of family and medical leave benefits.

The Universal Paid Leave Act provides that workers can take up to two weeks of paid leave to treat their own personal health issues and up to six weeks of paid leave to support a loved one who is seriously ill or dying. New parents will have the right to take up to eight weeks of paid leave, making D.C. the first jurisdiction in the country to provide equal parental leave to all mothers and fathers, regardless of whether they are adoptive, foster or birth parents.

It covers anyone who works in D.C.’s private and nonprofit sectors, including part-time workers, tipped workers, and self-employed residents. It is funded by a 0.62 percent payroll tax on employers. The law provides for the payroll tax collection to begin in 2019 and eligible employees will begin receiving the benefit in 2020.

The D.C. Council passed the measure by a 9 to 4 vote in December, and Mayor Muriel Bowser declined to veto the legislation in February. As with all laws in the District, the bill now goes to Congress for review and is expected to become law in early April.

The overwhelmingly popular legislation was supported by about 80% of District residents. Washington, D.C., now joins California, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island in mandating paid leave. Only 12 percent of Americans have access to paid family leave from their employer, and unlike almost every other nation in the world, the United States does not provide any form of paid time off for new mothers.

“No one should ever have to choose between a paycheck and their family,” said Local 400 President Mark P. Federici. “Thanks to the D.C. City Council, most workers in the nation’s capital won’t have to make that horrible choice anymore. They will be able to take care of themselves when they’re sick and take care of their loved ones without sacrificing their ability to feed their families and pay the rent or mortgage. We congratulate all nine Council Members who had the courage to do the right thing in the face of fierce business opposition.”

“Passage of the Universal Paid Leave Act demonstrates the power of families who united across the District around the shared need for vital benefits,” said Local 400’s Dyana Forester, who lives in Ward 7, and helped organize a broad-based coalition of more than 200 organizations that led to victory.

The Universal Paid Leave Act was introduced by Councilmembers Elissa Silverman (I-At Large) and David Grosso (I-At Large). Also voting for it were Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) and Councilmembers Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), Kenyan McDuffie (D-Ward 5), Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), Robert White (D-At Large) and Anita Bonds (D-At Large).

Jibril Wallace: Fighting for Paid Leave

Jibril Wallace has been working at the same Safeway in Washington, D.C. for 28 years, since she was a teenager helping her mother pay the bills. Now her income helps support her two children, ages 18 and 8. Through the years, Jibril moved up from courtesy clerk to food clerk to file maintenance manager, overseeing pricing and tagging. And for much of that time, she had no paid sick days.

“When you were sick, or the kids were sick, you went to work,” Jibril said. “You found a relative who worked in government and had sick leave if you could. Or I’d do the overnight shift and their dad would stay with them, and I’d be there during the day.”

When asked how she managed being sick herself, Jibril said, “I’m not quite sure what that is—you still had to go to work.” For a long time she could get only part-time hours—and part-timers had to be out three days before being paid for any illness. “Your body is giving you a sign that you need to rest,” she explained. “But you’d just medicate yourself, go in and pray you’ll feel better. I had to support myself.”

Jibril described the reckoning she’d go through, imagining the loss of eight hours pay. “I’d already be thinking to next Thursday, what did I have to be planning for financially,” she said. Because hours can fluctuate so much, many employees have to arrange before and after-school care.  Eight hours represents the weekly payment for that care.

But since the District of Columbia’s paid sick days law was expanded to include part-time workers, Jibril has a new peace of mind. “It’s very relieving to know if your kid or you yourself are sick, there will still hours on your check,” she said.

As a Local 400 leader and activist, Jibril makes sure to stay informed and to keep her co-workers informed about their rights. “Management is not going to tell you,” she said. “They tried to play around with it, but it got big, you’d hear it on the news.”

When a manager tried to deny one employee his sick time, Jibril straightened him out. “It’s not coming out of your pocket,” she told him. “It’s the law now.” Jibril is also alerting Safeway workers in Montgomery County, where a strong, comprehensive paid sick days law is now in effect.

Still, workers often aren’t aware of their rights. Jibril described a night stocker who got an infection after having a tooth pulled. “She sent me a picture of how swollen her face was and said she’d been told not to call out.” Jibril told her to take paid sick days. The woman was able to heal and come back to work.

“It’s awesome to know you have that cushion,” Jibril said, “especially when you’re part time. Everybody gets sick, or has a parent or kid who’s sick. This really helps out.”

Original post by Family Values At Work

Earned Sick Days Passes Maryland House of Delegates

The galleries were full of earned sick days supporters as the  House of Delegates debated the Healthy Working Families Act last week. Photo via Working Matters.

The galleries were full of earned sick days supporters as the
House of Delegates debated the Healthy Working Families Act last week. Photo via Working Matters.

Legislation Passes 84-54 With One Week Remaining in Session

Reposted from our friends at Working Matters, a coalition of more than 150 organizations committed to advancing the Maryland Campaign for Paid Sick Days.

The Maryland House of Delegates voted 84-54 today to approve legislation that would allow Maryland workers to earn up to seven paid sick days per year.

The successful House vote marks the furthest the bill has ever advanced within the Maryland General Assembly. The Healthy Working Families Act (HB 580/SB472) now awaits action in the Senate, where it currently remains in the Senate Finance Committee.

“Today, the House of Delegates underscored that Maryland families can’t wait any longer for earned sick leave,” said lead House sponsor Delegate Luke Clippinger. “With this vote, we are one giant step closer to ensuring that hundreds of thousands of working Marylanders no longer have to make the impossible choice between their health and their job, between the well-being of their families and their economic security.”

Also today, in a letter delivered to Senate President Miller and every member of the Senate, nearly 100 religious leaders from denominations and congregations across the State called upon the Maryland State Senate to act swiftly in passing a strong earned sick days bill. “When the health of workers is compromised by illness, they need time away from work to heal without fear of losing their jobs,” the faith leaders wrote. “People should not need to choose between earning an income to support themselves and their families or taking the time to restore their health or that of their family members.”

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research estimates that more than 700,000 Marylanders — nearly 40 percent of the state’s workforce — are unable to earn paid sick days to use when they or a family member are ill.

An October 2015 poll conducted by the University of Maryland/Washington Post found that 83 percent of voters support allowing workers to earn a limited number of annual paid sick days. This support was broad across key voting blocs, including 91 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans.

Specifically, the Healthy Working Families Act will:

  • Allow Maryland workers to earn one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked, up to seven full days (56 hours) of paid sick days per year.
  • Allow part-time workers to accrue fewer days per year, depending on the number of hours worked.
  • Permit employers with existing paid leave standards to maintain those policies as long as they comply with the minimum requirements of the Act.

With just over a week remaining in this year’s state legislative session, supporters of earned sick days – including faith leaders, community advocates, public health officials, nonprofit executives, parents with their children, and Maryland workers unable to earn paid sick days – will continue to rally in front of the State House each morning to greet senators as they head into floor sessions, and to urge passage of the Healthy Working Families Act.

To date, five states and 24 cities or counties – including Montgomery County, MD – have enacted earned sick days measures, either through legislation or voter-driven ballot initiatives, and more wins are on the horizon.

Take Action to Ensure Swift Passage in Senate

With only one week remaining in Maryland’s legislative session, your Senator needs to hear why there’s no reason to wait until 2017 to pass the Healthy Working Families Act.  The bill has been vetted for four years and is ready to go, as is evidenced by action taken in the House. Please click here to ask for your Senator’s help in bringing the bill to a vote.