Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Princess and Paid Sick Days

Carolyn worked as a swimming coach for middle school children at a community center in San Jose. She was proud of her team. Last year, Carolyn's team had won a third place medal in the state championship.

Carolyn loved her job. However, she wished it paid more money. Every month, Carolyn had a hard time paying her rent and childcare for her three-year-old daughter Jasmine. Carolyn had no one to help her.

When Carolyn was a teenager, her parents had died in a car accident. Her daughter's father was always in trouble for doing stupid things. She was glad that he was no longer in her life.

Over the weekend, Carolyn had been sick. Her stomach ached and her head throbbed. She only had gotten out of the bed to take care of her daughter. The rest of the time Carolyn had slept. For some reason, Carolyn wasn't getting any better.

Carolyn looked at her bedroom clock. It was 6:00 in the morning. She had an hour to get ready to take Jasmine to childcare. After she dropped Jasmine off, she would go into work.

Carolyn wanted to call into work sick, but she couldn't. She already had missed work for two days when Jasmine was sick. If she missed work another day, she wouldn't be able to pay the rent.

Carolyn got out bed and went into her bathroom. She took a quick shower and got dressed. She looked in the mirror. She looked horrible. However, she had no choice but to go to work.

She then went into Jasmine's room to get her ready for childcare. To her surprise, Jasmine was already dressed and had her favorite book opened to a picture of a princess.

"Mommy, the princess talked to me," said Jasmine.

"You have a nice imagination," said Carolyn.

"Mommy, the princess really talked to me," said Jasmine.

"It's okay to imagine things," said Carolyn.

"I did talk to your daughter," said a voice from the book.

Carolyn stared at the book and said nothing.

"See Mommy, the princess did talk to me," said Jasmine.

"I am a princess of the Queendom of Paid Sick Days," said the princess. "Your daughter told me that you are sick and you have to go to work."

Carolyn stared at the princess and said nothing.

"You're right. My mommy is very sick but she can't stay home," said Jasmine.

"I can help your mommy," said the princess.

"How?" asked Jasmine.

"I will issue a proclamation declaring paid sick days for all workers at your mommy's job," said the princess.

"Please do it now. Mommy needs to get better," said Jasmine.

"Effective today, your mommy will have paid sick days at her job," said the princess.

The phone rang. Jasmine picked it up. "Mommy, it's for you. It's your boss."

Carolyn took the phone and talked to her boss. After a minute, she hung up the phone and turned to Jasmine and the princess.

"Oh my goodness, my boss told me to take the day off. She said the community center decided to give the workers paid sick days. The parents complained that the children were getting sick from the workers. They don't want the workers coming to work sick anymore," said Carolyn.

"Mommy, you can go to bed now and get some rest," said Jasmine. "The princess will take care of me."

"Carolyn, I will take care of Jasmine," said the princess.

"Princess, thank you for your help," said Carolyn. "Is there anything I can do to help you?"

"When you get better, please sign the petition for paid sick days for California workers," said the princess.

"I will," said Carolyn.

Paid Sick Days are Good for the Economy

Professors Marc Levine and Michael Rosen recently wrote an eloquent opinion-editorial in the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel supporting paid sick days for workers. The professors skillfully argued that a policy of paid sick days benefits the economy. They noted the positive impact of San Francisco's paid sick days ordinance.

Opponents say requiring paid sick days is a worthy objective but not economically viable. Some have invoked the recession as a reason to oppose it.

But these opponents offer the same discredited methodology and arguments that low-road employers have used historically in opposing child labor laws, minimum wage, workers compensation, clean air regulations and virtually every other labor standard this nation has adopted. Each time the opposition characterized the new labor or community standard as a job killer. And after each standard was established, the business community adapted, the economy grew and our country, its workers and their families were better for it.

In the 1990s, business lobbyists used a similar argument to oppose raising the minimum wage. But after states and even cities raised wages above the national minimum, economists found the Chicken Little scenarios did not occur: Incremental increases did not increase unemployment or cause minimum wage-paying firms to lay people off. Those state and local victories paved the way for advances on the national level.

Facing similar dire warnings, San Francisco enacted a paid sick leave ordinance in 2007. However, despite an economic downturn affecting all counties in the Bay Area, San Francisco maintained a competitive job growth rate that exceeded the average rate of nearby counties.

To read the complete opinion-editorial, click here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Rapunzel and Paid Sick Days

Rapunzel worked in a factory that manufactured wigs for cancer patients and women who suffered from hair loss in the San Francisco Bay Area. She liked her job a lot because she was helping people.

For some reason, her employer did not provide paid sick days. Not having paid sick days was a real hardship for Rapunzel. Two years ago, Rapunzel's frail elderly mother moved in with her. Her mother's family members were dead. Rapunzel's friends all worked. There was no one to help her to take care of her mother.

For the past two days, Rapunzel's mother had been sick with the flu. Rapunzel took time off from work to stay home with her. If she didn't return back to work tomorrow, she wouldn't be able to pay the rent for their small modest apartment.

Unfortunately, her mother's medication wasn't working. Rapunzel felt tears welling up her eyes because she didn't know what to do.

She walked into her bathroom and got some tissue to wipe away her tears. Rapunzel then grabbed her hairbrush from the counter. She brushed her long, thick hair that flowed past her waist. She put her hair into a long braid.

She then saw a mouse scurry across the bathroom floor. "Gross," she screamed, "This is the last thing I need now."

"I'm not gross," the mouse replied.

Rapunzel looked bewildered. "You can't talk," she said. "You're a mouse."

"Girlfriend, I'm not an ordinary mouse. I have special powers," the mouse replied.

"What kind of powers?" Rapunzel asked.

"Girlfriend, I can outfox a cat and eat cheese like there's no tomorrow."

"Those kind of powers aren't going to help me," Rapunzel said. "I need my mother to get better so I go back to work. Do you have magic spells that can help me with this?"

"Magic spells have never been my thing. I always get always the words mixed up. The last time I did a magic spell, I turned a prince into a frog. Since that time, he's been hanging out in the pond catching flies."

Rapunzel rolled her eyes. "Do you have any healing powers?"

"Girlfriend, you've reading too many fairy tales," the mouse answered. "The only folks who have that kind of power are doctors."

"Then how you can help me?" Rapunzel asked.

"Girlfriend, my secret power is persuasion," the mouse answered. "I can talk to your boss and get her to agree to give you paid sick days."

"Nobody has that kind of power," Rapunzel said. "Besides, I don't want to get into trouble."

"I'm a lawyer. Back in the day, I was a top litigator and I never lost a case. I retired a few years ago. I now help folks with getting paid sick days."

"How come I've never heard of you?"

"Back then, I was human," the mouse replied. "But I did a magic spell on myself and I turned myself into a mouse. There's no reverse spell to change me back."

"So what's your fee?" Rapunzel asked.

"Girlfriend, I retired well. Now, that I'm a mouse, I don't have any real expenses. So my fee is nothing," the mouse answered. "So can I talk to your boss?"

"Sure," Rapunzel said. She then recited the contact information for her boss.

The mouse then disappeared into a hole.

Rapunzel walked into her bedroom. To her surprise, the mouse was on the bed with a rolled up document.

Rapunzel picked up the document and read it.

Because we are in the business of taking care of people, it has come to our attention that we are not taking care of our workers. We were presented with convincing arguments, which demonstrated why we should provide paid sick days for our workers. Accordingly, we have a new policy. Effective today, all workers shall be entitled to paid sick days to take care of themselves, a sick child or other sick relative including a parent, grandparent, sister or brother.

Rapunzel smiled. "Thank you. I appreciate all that you have done."

"You're welcome," the mouse replied. "By the way, please sign the petition for paid sick days. Please make sure that all of your friends and family in California also sign it."

"I will," Rapunzel replied.

California Workers: Share Your Paid Sick Days Stories

We are currently gathering stories from California workers who don't have paid sick days. Do you work for an employer who doesn't provide paid sick days? Or maybe you worked in the past for an employer who didn't provide paid sick days. Please share your story.

We would like to post California workers' stories on our blog. For our stories, we need the following information.

1. Your occupation
2. Your city of residence in California
3. How long you have worked or did you work for your employer?
4. Are you are a single working parent? If yes, what are the ages of your child(ren)?
5. Are you a caregiver for a parent, grandparent or other relative?
6. How has the lack of paid sick days affected you and/or your family?

If you wish to be anonymous, please state this in your e-mail. We'll contact you if we decide to publish your story.

Please e-mail us at We look forward to your responses.

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Year's Resoution: Paid Sick Days

This year make it your New Year's resolution to obtain paid sick days for California workers. Over 6 million California workers do not get any paid sick days through their employer. Many California workers are forced to make a hard choice when they or their children become sick.

Workers have to choose between losing a day’s wages or maybe even their job if they’re going to stay home to take care of themselves or their children. Workers may have to go to work sick or send their kids to school sick. This isn’t a fair choice. Paid sick days should be a right and not a privilege.

You can help by doing the following.
Remember every little act makes a difference. Together, we can change workers' lives.

Pinocchio and Paid Sick Days

For the past eight months, Pinocchio had worked for a company in Redwood City. Today, he felt horrible. Pinocchio clutched his head in his hands. He had a terrible migraine headache. Pinocchio wanted to go home and rest, but he couldn't. He had a ton of work. Besides if he went home, he wouldn't get paid.

Athena, a co-worker, tapped him on his shoulder. She said, "Pinocchio, you look awful."

"Athena, I'm okay," Pinocchio replied.

He removed his hands from his head and closed his eyes for a few seconds. He then opened his eyes. He touched his nose. To his surprise, his nose had grown an inch.

"No, you're not," Athena countered.

"I'm fine," Pinocchio insisted.

Pinocchio's nose grew another inch.

Every time you pretend that you're well, your nose grows," Athena said.

"I'm not fibbing," Pinocchio argued.

Pinocchio's nose grew two more inches.

"Say you feel 100 percent healthy," Athena said.

"I feel 100 percent healthy," Pinocchio said.

"Oh my gosh, your nose is huge," Athena said, "You need to start telling the truth about your health."

Pinocchio touched his nose. It was long as his face. He was embarrassed.

"Okay, I will," Pinocchio said sheepishly.

"So how are you feeling?" Athena asked.

"Awful, but I can't go home." Pinocchio answered. "If I do, I won't get paid."

"Losing a few hours of pay shouldn't matter," Athena said.

"Yes, it does when you're raising a little brother," Pinocchio replied. "We lost our parents in a wood chopping accident two years ago. We need every penny for food and clothes. So if I take off the rest of the day, we will have to skip a few meals."

Pinocchio then touched his nose. It was now its normal size. "I'll have to pretend that I'm not sick if the boss comes by," Pinocchio added.

"I have a better idea," said Athena.

"What?" Pinocchio asked.

"I'm a goddess," said Athena. "I have special powers."

"Wasn't Athena a goddess in Greek mythology?" Pinocchio asked.

"Yes. The original Athena was my great-great-great grandmother," Athena replied. "I was named after her. She was known for her wisdom."

"So if you're a goddess, why are you working here?" Pinocchio asked.

"Nowadays, we're actively involved in the community. 2009 is the year of the California worker. Our mandate is to help workers obtain paid sick days." Athena answered.

"Wow," Pinocchio said. "So can you get me paid sick days today?"

"Yes, I can," Athena said. "Touch your nose three times and say I want paid sick days."

Pinocchio touched his nose three times and said the chant.

"Now what?" Pinocchio asked.

"I just received a memo from company headquarters that all workers have paid sick days effective today," Athena replied. "So you can go home now and get the rest you need."

"Thank you Athena," Pinocchio said. "How can I repay you?"

"You should sign the petition for paid sick days for California workers," Athena answered.

"I will do that," Pinocchio. "And I'll tell everyone I know about it."

Monday, January 5, 2009

9to5 Fights to Save Paid Sick Days in Milwaukee

In the November 2008 election, Milwaukee voters overwhelmingly voted by 69 percent margin for paid sick days. Unfortunately, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce has filed a lawsuit against the city of Milwaukee to overturn the passed sick days law.

In order to protect workers, our sister chapter 9to5 in Milwaukee has asked the court to allow it to intervene in the lawsuit as a defendant. To read more about the lawsuit, click here.

Little Red Riding Hood, the Wolf and Paid Sick Days

Little Red Riding Hood was on her bike on her way to her grandmother's house. In her basket, she had soup, crackers and juice to help her grandmother feel better. Over the past few days, her grandmother had been sick with the flu and she hadn't been able to go into work.

Little Red Riding Hood stopped at a red light on Hen Road in Inglewood. She felt a tap on her shoulder. She turned around and a saw a wolf who introduced himself.

Little Red Riding Hood said, "Grandma told me not to talk to wolves because they eat people."

"Not me," said the wolf, "I'm a vegetarian."

"I've never heard of a vegetarian wolf," said Little Red Riding Hood. "Are you lying to me?"

"I'm telling the truth. When I used to eat meat, my cholesterol and blood pressure were out-of-control. Plus, I had no energy. It got so bad that I couldn't even walk a block. Now, that I've given up meat, I've lost weight and I can run three miles with no problem," replied the wolf.

"Wow, wait until I tell my grandma this," said Little Red Riding Hood.

"My no people diet has done wonders," the wolf said proudly.

"So what do you want?" asked Little Red Riding Hood.

"I heard that your grandmother has paid sick days," said the wolf.

"That's true," replied Little Red Riding Hood, "That's why she's able to stay home with the flu and not worry about her bills."

"I need paid sick days at my job," said the wolf, "I work with a bunch of wolves at this meat factory and they won't let us take time off when we get sick."

"You're a vegetarian and you work at a meat factory," said Little Red Riding Hood.

"I've got make a living," said the wolf, "And with the recession, I'm glad that I have a job."

"I guess I'm lucky. I'm in school so I don't have to worry about looking for work," said Little Red Riding Hood.

"At work, it gets kind of nasty when the wolves come in sick," said the wolf. "Sometimes we sneeze into the meat when we are packing it."

"Gross," said Little Red Riding Hood. "Maybe you should call the food inspector."

"We did," said the wolf, "But the company still wouldn't give us paid sick days."

"My grandma told me about this petition for paid sick days for workers in California. You and the other wolves should sign it."

"Are paw prints, okay?" asked the wolf.

"Sure," Little Riding Hood answered. "Here's the link to the petition for paid sick days."

"Great," the wolf said. "I'll tell all my co-workers about the petition."