Thursday, February 14, 2008

Paid Sick Leave

Kate and I spent a few hours at the legislature last week handing out apples to Representatives in an effort to call attention to the importance of paid sick leave. I thought Kate was pretty irresistable, but not every one agreed, with one Representative dismissing the importance of healthy workers and famlies as "too expensive". It is hard for me to understand that perspective, and I got a bit of a mom-voice as I tried to argue him down (not politic, it turns out, but kind of fun).

Here's the full story :

For Immediate Release: February 12, 2008
Contact: Sarah Standiford, 207-622-0851 (office) 207-837-2609 (cell)

Hundreds of Apple-Grams Delivered to Maine Legislators

Moms to Elected Officials: "An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away, but We
Need Paid Sick Days for When that Doesn't Do the Trick!"

(Augusta) "An Apple a day doesn't do the trick when I am at work and my
children are sick!" That's the message that one member sent
to legislators on Tuesday on a specially wrapped Maine "Apple-Grams."

Moms converged on the 3rd floor of the Maine State House on Tuesday to
Apple-Grams in support of paid sick days. members emailed
the messages they wanted to send to legislators, and the Maine Women's
Lobby worked with moms to wrap and deliver them to legislators.

Christina Griffin, of Portland, came to the State House to tell her
representatives to pass L.D. 1454, the paid sick day bill. "When parents
don't have sick days, children pay the price. My son had to go to the
emergency room at night with a fever of 102, simply because my husband and
I couldn't take a paid sick day to take him to the doctor during the day
when he needed attention. No parent should be forced to choose between
their job and their child."

Thousands of workers in Maine lack the basic protection of a paid sick
day. For low-income working parents without sick days, a child's ear
infection of case of the flu can mean no money for rent or food on the
table...or even losing a job. A full 86% of people working in the food
and public accomodation industry have NO sick days, so are forced to come
to work sick - or risk pay or even penalties at work. The bottom line is
that Maine workers should have the right to recover from illness without
endangering public health. And children deserve the protection of parents
who can take time to care for them when they're sick.

"We're delivering these Apple-Grams on behalf of all the sick people who
had to work today," said Sarah Standiford, Executive Director of the Maine
Women's Lobby
. "Mainers deserve the right to recover from illness without
endangering public health. They need paid sick days to stay healthy, and
so do all of us."

"The inability to take even one paid sick day is a huge liability for
public health, for workers, and for businesses," said Kristin
Rowe-Finkbeiner, Executive Director of MomsRising.Org, a national
grassroots organization building support for a family-friendly America.
"When employees have to go to work sick they risk spreading their illness
to their co-workers and their customers-as well as getting sicker
themselves and ultimately having to take more time off. Do you really
want someone with the flu working in the kitchen of your favorite
restaurant? It's not fair to you, and it's not fair to the worker. The
Act to Care for Working Families will help to ensure that Maine workers
aren't forced to choose between going to work sick or losing a day's
pay...and possibly a job."

L.D. 1454 An Act to Care for Working Families would allow workers in
businesses with 25 or more employees to accrue one hour for every 30 hours
they work. Both part-time and full-time workers would benefit from this
bill which caps the amount of paid days off to five.

The Maine Women's Lobby is a non-partisan, non-profit membership
organization working since 1978 to increase opportunities for women and
girls through advocacy and legislative action.

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