Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Ghost and Paid Sick Days

It was Friday afternoon. Jenny's night crew would arrive in the next thirty minutes. Business was going well at her restaurant in Sunnyvale. Profits were up and the workers seemed to like their work. With tips, the workers made a decent wage. Jenny didn't provide her workers with paid sick days because she figured they didn't need them.

Jenny went into the bathroom to wash her hands. Suddenly the lights went out. When she looked up, she saw a ghost.

"You can't be real," said Jenny. "My eyes must be playing tricks on me."

"Child, your eyes are fine," said the ghost.

"Who are you?" asked Jenny.

"Child, I can't believe you don't know who I am," said the ghost.

"Would you stop calling me child. I'm grown," said Jenny.

"I'm old enough to be your great-great-great grandma. So if I want to call you child, I can." replied the ghost.

"Wow," said Jenny. "Why are you here?"

"I am the ghost of no paid sick days."

"What does that mean?" asked Jenny.

"I am going to show you what happens when your workers lack paid sick days," said the ghost.

"Why?" asked Jenny.

"Because you have a worker who is sick," said the ghost.

"No, I don't," said Jenny.

"Yes, you do," said the ghost. "We are going to visit her now. Just close your eyes for a minute."

Jenny closed her eyes. When the ghost told her to open her eyes, she did.

They were outside a worker's apartment. They looked inside.

"That's Raquel," said Jenny.

Raquel was sneezing. Her eyes were red and her nose was running.

"Oh my gosh," said Jenny. "She looks horrible."

They watched Raquel take cough medicine and put medication in her eyes.

Raquel picked up her cell phone and punched in a number. The ghost and Jenny heard Raquel tell someone that she was going to work.

Jenny looked at the ghost and said, "Raquel should stay home."

The ghost pointed to a pile of bills on Raquel's desk. "Child, she can't stay home. If she does, she won't be able to pay her electric bill."

The ghost pointed to a notice that said the following:

Notice to shut off electricity: If you don't pay this bill in three days, we will be forced to shut off your electricity.

"It's not my problem that she's late on her bill," said Jenny. "She should manage her money better."

"Child, that's so mean." said the ghost. "Remember Raquel was out last month for a few days because her daughter was in the hospital?"

"Yes," replied Jenny.

"That caused her to get behind in her electric bill," said the ghost. "If she doesn't work today, they'll cut off her electricity."

"That's too bad," said Jenny.

"And if she comes to work, she'll get the customers sick and the other workers sick," said the ghost.

"That's true," said Jenny.

"Isn't Raquel your best food server?" asked the ghost.

"Yes," said Jenny.

"And hasn't she helped your business increase your profits by providing excellent service?" asked the ghost.

"Yes," answered Jenny.

"So she's an asset to your business, correct?" asked the ghost.

"Yes," replied Jenny.

"And don't all your workers do great work?" asked the ghost.

"Yes, I'm proud of my staff," said Jenny.

"You then need to provide paid sick days. It will keep the workplace healthy and keep the customers healthy. In the end, it's a win-win situation."

"That sounds good," said Jenny. "So what I should I do?"

"Call Raquel and tell her that you are providing your workers with paid sick days."

Jenny took her cell phone out of her purse and called Raquel. She told Raquel about the new paid sick day policy and told her to stay home. Raquel thanked her and agreed to stay home.

"Is there anything else I should do?" asked Jenny.

"We want to make paid sick days a standard for all California workplaces," said the ghost. "Please sign the petition for paid sick days for California workers and tell all your friends and family in California about the petition."

"I will," said Jenny.

Connecticut Workers Fight to Pass Paid Sick Days Legislation

In Connecticut, workers are fighting to pass paid sick days. Last week, columnist Susan Campbell of the Hartford Courtant wrote an article, "The Cost Of Not Paying For Sick Days." Ms. Campbell's article cites a restaurant owner, who provides paid sick days to his workers.

Two years after he opened Pond House Cafe in Elizabeth Park, Louis Lista realized that it made good business sense to provide benefits for his workers.

That included health insurance, 401(k)s and paid vacation, personal and sick days in an industry notorious for its paucity of employee benefits. The economy was chugging along (this was eight years ago), and though Lista says it's a little tougher now, he is firm on providing benefits, and he wonders why other restaurants don't follow his lead.

Click here to read more.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Frog and Paid Sick Days

For the past year, Bryan had been working as a web designer at a Silicon Valley firm. Because his job had flexible hours, Bryan was able to work on his masters at San Jose State during the day. His job didn't pay a lot but Bryan liked it.

The only problem with his job was that it didn't have paid sick days. The last couple days Bryan had been sick with the flu. He had stayed home because he had felt awful.

However, he couldn't stay home any longer. If he did, he would be late on the rent. Bryan had been late twice in the past with rent. His landlord warned Bryan if he were late again, she would evict him.

Bryan stared out his bedroom window and saw a frog. The frog motioned Bryan to open the window. Bryan opened the window and let the frog come in.

"Dude, you look horrible," said the frog.

"Dude, you're a frog. You can't talk," said Bryan. "All those meds that I took are making me hallucinate."

"Dude, I used to be a prince and now I'm a frog," said the frog.

"Dude, if a hottie kisses you, will you turn back into a prince?" asked Bryan.

"Bro, that's so old school. Nobody turns into princes anymore. We're proud to be frogs and we fight for the rights of workers," said the frog.

"What kind of workers' rights?" asked Bryan.

"Dude, our top priority is paid sick days," said the frog.

"Dude, I need paid sick days," said Bryan. "I'm sick and I don't want to go work but I have to go. If I don't, I won't be able to pay my rent."

"Can't someone help you?" asked the frog.

"I've got no one," replied Bryan. "My grandmother died of breast cancer three years ago. All she left was a ton of bills because she had no health insurance. I never met my father. And my mother is somewhere in Florida. She's been in and out of rehab all of her life.

"Bro, that's why I'm here," said the frog. "I'll help you."

"How?" asked Bryan.

"Dude, clap your hands three times and say I want paid sick days."

"Dude, that's not going to work," Brian whined. "I must be dreaming, because none of this is real."

"Dude, this is not a dream. Now, just do everything I say."

Bryan nodded his head. He then clapped his hands three times and said the chant.

"Now what?" asked Bryan.

"Check out your cell phone," said the frog.

Bryan pulled out his cell phone and looked at it. He had a text from his boss. The text read,

"Effective today, we are instituting a policy in which all workers will have paid sick days. Too many of our workers are coming to work sick. When they do, they infect the other workers. This decreases our productivity and in the end, it hurts our business.

"Dude, that's great," Bryan said. "I'm going to text my boss and let her know that I'm staying home today."

Bryan then sent a text to his boss.

"Dude, I'm glad that things worked out," said the frog.

"Thank you," said Bryan. "Is there anything that I can do for you?"

"Dude, sign the petition for paid sick days for California workers," said the frog. "Tell your friends and co-workers about our petition."

"Sure," said Bryan.

Massachusetts Paid Sick Days News: Workers Deliver Valentine Cookies to Legislators

Last Friday, workers rallied at the state capitol in Massachusetts in their fight for paid sick days.

Valentine cookies were later delivered to state legislators with messages to support paid sick days.

The OpenMediaBoston's coverage of the event included pictures of the valentine cookies along with great quotes from the rally speakers.

Labor leaders and union members repeatedly stressed how essential paid sick leave is. Mike Fadel, Executive Vice President 1199 SEIU retold a story from a member of his union, who said, "I can barely afford to be well. I certainly can't afford to be sick." Bob Haynes, President of Massachusetts AFL-CIO said it was up to Massachusetts citizens and lawmakers to lay the foundation of paid sick leave for employees. "We are earning these sick days as working people. We're not giving anything away to anybody. We've earned them by going to work."

To read more, click here.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Queen and Paid Sick Days

Veronica looked in the mirror. She looked awful. She had been sick over the weekend and she was not getting better. She looked at her watch. She would have to be at work in an hour. She wanted to stay home but couldn't.

Veronica got dressed and combed her long, thick hair and put it in a ponytail. She looked in the mirror again. She still looked terrible.

Her cell phone rang. Veronica picked it up.

“Hello, may I speak to Veronica?" a woman’s voice asked.

“This is Veronica,” replied Veronica.

“You sound horrible,” said the voice.

“I’m not feeling too well,” said Veronica.

“Are you going into work today?” asked the voice.

“Who are you?” Veronica asked.

“I am the Queen of Paid Sick Days. I know what happened over the weekend,” said the voice.

“I don’t believe you,” said Veronica.

“On Friday night, you went to your boyfriend’s cousin’s house for dinner. She made a pizza withmushrooms, bell peppers and onions. She forgot to wash her hands. So everybody got sick. You’ve had bad stomach cramps and you keep going to the bathroom every hour. The site of food makes you nauseous,” said the Queen.

“I believe you now,” said Veronica.

“I don’t understand why you’re going to work today,” said the Queen. “You’re still not well.”

“I don’t have a choice. Right now, I’m working at a job that barely pays my bills. If I miss one day of work, I won’t be able to pay my rent,” said Veronica.

“Can’t your boyfriend help you out?” asked the Queen.

“He’s been out of work for months and his unemployment will run out at the end of the month. When it does, he’s going to move into his parents’ house,” replied Veronica.

“Can’t your parents help you out?” asked the Queen.

“My mother had me late in life. She’s on social security and lives in senior housing. She doesn’t have any extra money. And my dad died of a heart attack a few years ago. So no one can help me,” replied Veronica.

“Seeing that things are bad for you, I can help you get paid sick days,” said the Queen.

“How?” asked Veronica.

“I am going to make a few calls. I'll call you back in a few minutes,” said the Queen.

“Okay,” said Veronica. She then hit the end button on her cell phone.

A few minutes later, Veronica’s cell phone rang. Veronica answered it.

“This is Queen of Paid Sick Days. I have your boss on the line,” said the Queen.

“Veronica, the Queen told me that you’re sick. You should stay home,” said Veronica’s boss. “And effective today, all of our workers are entitled to paid sick days.”

“Really?” asked Veronica.

“Yes,” replied Veronica’s boss. “It makes fiscal sense. Healthy workers are good workers and it will reduce turnover in the workplace. So again, you’ll get paid for staying home today. Just take care of yourself and get better.”

“Thank you very much,” said Veronica.

“I have to go now,” said Veronica’s boss.

“I’ll call back you in a minute,” said the Queen.

Veronica hit the end button on her cell phone. Within a minute, her cell phone rang. Veronica answered it.

“Now you can stay home and not worry about your rent,” said the Queen.

“Thank you for your help. I really appreciate it,” said Veronica.

“You’re welcome,” replied the Queen.

Is there anything I can do for you?” asked Veronica.

“When you get better, please sign the petition for paid sick days for California workers. Please tell your friends and family members in California about the petition,” said the Queen.

“I will," said Veronica. "And thank you again for everything.”

Why are Paid Sick Days an Important Policy Issue?

Sloan Work Family Research Network's Policy Mini-Brief Series-- Work-Family Information On: Paid Sick Days provides an excellent quote from Senator Mary Ann Handley (CT) on the importance of paid sick days.

"In terms of public health policy, paid sick days are a proactive deterrent to the unnecessary spread of germs, virus, and resulting illness, so in my view should be made available to employees wherever possible. From an economic standpoint, it seems an employer would willingly invest in paid leave for an employee who is ill rather than risk widespread infection throughout the workplace.”

To read more, click here.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Mermaid and Paid Sick Days

Jennifer worked as a chef at a seafood restaurant in Venice Beach. Her grandmother's recipe for clam chowder had customers coming to the restaurant in droves. Last year, her clam chowder had won the "California Clam Chowder of the Year" award.

It was 4:00 on Friday and food server Marcia was sick. Marcia's eyes were red and her nose was runny. In one hour, the restaurant would open for its dinner shift.

Jennifer turned to Marcia and said, "Marcia, you look terrible. You should go home and rest."

"I can't," Marcia replied. "I'm a single parent and my ex-husband is behind paying child support. I didn't work two days this week. And I'm late with the rent. My landlord gave me until next week to come up with the money. If I don't work this weekend, I'll be kicked out of my apartment."

"That's horrible," said Jennifer. "Can't you get a loan?"

"Nobody I know has any money," Marcia replied. "Because of the recession, a lot of my friends are out of work."

"There has to be a way for you to stay home," said Jennifer.

A voice from the corner of the restaurant said, "There is a way."

Jennifer and Marcia turned around and saw a mermaid.

"Who are you?" Marcia asked.

"I am the queen mermaid of Venice Beach," replied the mermaid.

"Mermaids aren't real. We must be in some kind of dream," said Jennifer.

"Honey, I'm 100 percent real. There' s nothing artificial about me," said the mermaid.

"I believe you," said Marcia. "So how you can help me?"

"My job is help food workers obtain paid sick days," said the mermaid.

"Why food workers?" asked Marcia.

"Honey, because when you're sick, the customers are grossed out. It's bad for business and it's bad for everyone," replied the mermaid.

"You're right," said Marcia.

"Honey, I have a petition signed by a lot of customers," said the mermaid, "I'm giving it to the owner of the restaurant."

"I don't think a petition will do anything," said Marcia.

"Oh yes, it will," said the mermaid. "The customers have promised that they will not eat here until all the workers are granted paid sick days."

"Maybe the owner will listen," said Jennifer.

The mermaid then left. After a few minutes, the mermaid returned with a big smile on her face.

"The owner agreed to paid sick days," said the mermaid. "Marcia, you can go home now and get some rest. Don't come back until you're better."

"Thank you," said Marcia. "Is there anything I can do for you?"

"Yes," said the mermaid. "Jennifer and you should sign our petition for paid sick days for California workers. Please tell everyone about the petition, because every signature will make a difference."

"We will," said Jennifer and Marcia in unison.

Workers Comment on Paid Sick Days

Since late December 2008, we have been gathering signatures for our Paid Sick Days petition. We've received great comments on paid sick days from California workers.

"I am glad to have paid sick days, but I also believe in the absence of close-knit, self-sufficient, smaller communities, that paid sick days is a human right. Everyone should have them."

"Paid sick says is good for business, good for workers, good for everybody in California."

"Thank God, as a teacher with a strong union, paid sick days have been negotiated. Everyone should have the same!"

"It is my belief that obtaining paid sick days is a human right to receive fair and equal treatment."

If you haven't signed the petition for paid sick days, please sign it now. If you have signed, please send your friends and family in California an e-mail about the petition. Remember every signature will make a difference!