Sunday, March 29, 2009

Hansel and Gretel and Paid Sick Days

Vanessa recently had been promoted to vice president of her company. Times were good. Vanessa was making a lot of money and she had good benefits, which included paid sick days.

Vanessa decided to visit her favorite deli in downtown Yosemite for lunch. When she ordered a sandwich, she noticed that the sandwich maker was sniffling. Vanessa's stomach turned when the worker wiped his nose with his bare hand.

Vanessa wanted to tell the worker to go home. Instead, she said nothing. When the worker handed her the sandwich, Vanessa paid for it. She then walked out of the deli.

When Vanessa saw a nearby trash can, she threw the sandwich away. She then felt a tap on her shoulder. She turned around and saw a young woman and man.

The young woman asked, "Why did you throw away a perfectly good sandwich?"

"Young lady, the worker who made my sandwich was sick," replied Vanessa. "There's no way I'm going to eat a sandwich made by a sick worker."

"Why didn't you say anything when you were in the deli?" asked the young man.

"Young man, because I didn't want to hurt the worker's feelings," replied Vanessa. "I just won't go back there anymore for lunch."

"Maybe you should have asked the worker why he was working sick," said the young woman.

"Young lady, I don't have time to ask those kinds of questions," said Vanessa. "I have a lot more important things to do in life."

"Like what?" asked the young man.

"Who are you? The food police?" asked Vanessa.

"No, we're Hansel and Gretel," replied the young man and young woman in unison.

"You're kidding right," said Vanessa. "Hansel and Gretel is a fairy tale."

"We're really Hansel and Gretel," said the young man and young woman together. "However, we've expanded our roles from our fairy tale days. Right now, we're on a special assignment."

"What's your assignment?" asked Vanessa.

"We're helping workers obtain paid sick days," said Gretel.

"What does have to do with me?" asked Vanessa. "I have paid sick days and I'm doing quite well."

"Did you always have paid sick days?" asked Hansel.

"I've been working at this job for about five years and I've had paid sick days since the day I started," said Vanessa.

"What about your last job?" asked Gretel.

"We didn't have paid sick days," said Vanessa. "A few years ago, I had the flu where I could barely move. I had to go to work or I wouldn't be able to pay my rent. Well, I went to work and I got really sick. I ended up in the hospital and I couldn't work for about three weeks. I lost my apartment and I had to sleep on a friend's couch for about three months until I was able to get my money together for a new place."

"So you've gone through hard times," said Hansel.

"Yes, I have," said Vanessa.

"The deli worker is going through a hard time also," said Gretel. "He can't afford to take time off from work."

"Now I understand why he went to work today," said Vanessa. "But there has to be a way to help him."

"There is," said Hansel. "We are gathering signatures for a petition for paid sick days for California workers. If you sign the petition, you'll help the six million California workers who lack paid sick days."

"I'll sign the petition," said Vanessa. "Is there anything else I can do?"

"Yes," answered Gretel. "Tell everyone about the petition for paid sick days for California workers. Together we can a difference."

Worker Can't Afford to Recover from Severe Accident

Hilda lives in Los Angeles and works at job that doesn't have paid sick days. Hilda recently was injured in a severe car accident. Hilda can't afford to take time off from work to recover. Watch her story.

Make a difference in workers' lives. Sign the petition for paid sick days for California workers.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Three Little Pigs and Paid Sick Days

After a year of looking for work, Sarah finally found a job at a grocery store in Oakland. The job didn't pay a lot and it had no benefits. However, with the recession, Sarah didn't have a lot of choices. Her unemployment had run out a month ago and she had less than $100 in the bank.

On her first day of work, Sarah noticed that several of her co-workers were sick. Two of the workers sneezed while they were loading vegetables in bins. Another worker wiped his nose while he was ringing up customers' purchases.

On her break, Sarah went into the bathroom. When she looked in the mirror, she saw three pigs. Because Sarah thought she was seeing things, she ignored the pigs.

The pigs spoke, "Hello, we're the three little pigs."

"Isn't the three little pigs a fairy story?" Sarah asked.

"Back in the old days, we were a fairy tale," replied the three little pigs. "However, since the recession we've been community organizers. We help workers."

"That's nice," said Sarah. "But I don't need help."

"What about your co-workers?" asked the three little pigs.

"Some of them are sick," said Sarah. "They should just go home and get some rest."

"Do they get paid if they go home?" asked the three little pigs.

"No, we don't have benefits," said Sarah. "At my old job I had paid sick days. Times were good but then I got laid off. I had to take this job because I couldn't find anything else."

"That's too bad," said the three little pigs.

"Yeah I know," said Sarah. "I don't understand why we don't have paid sick days. We are a grocery store and our workers should be healthy. When workers come to work sick, they can infect the customers and their families with their illnesses."

"That's right," said the three little pigs. "Plus what do you think happens when a customer sees a sick worker?"

"They probably won't want to come back," replied Sarah.

"So not having paid sick days is not only a health hazard but it's bad for business," said the three little pigs.

"You're right," said Sarah. "How do we get paid sick days?"

"Clap your hands three times and say I want paid sick days for my co-workers," said the three little pigs.

Sarah clapped her hands and said the chant. "Now what?" asked Sarah.

"Turn around and look on the bathroom wall," said the three little pigs.

"It's a memo," said Sarah. "The owner said we now have paid sick days because she had too many complaints about sick workers. In fact, one customer stopped shopping at the store after she caught the flu from a sick worker."

"Now, your co-workers can go home and get some rest," said the three little pigs.

"That's great," said Sarah. "Thank you for helping out my co-workers."

"You're welcome," said the three little pigs.

"Is there anything I can do?" asked Sarah.

"Yes, sign the petition for paid sick days for California workers," said the three little pigs.

"I'll will and I will tell my co-workers and friends about the petition," said Sarah.

Worker Fired for Being Sick

A worker was recently fired for being sick. Consider the plight of Lupe who lives in San Jose and is a single low-income mother. Lupe worked for a major company in Silicon Valley part-time five days a week on a regular schedule. She loaded up trucks with packages and other mail in the early hours of the morning.

Lupe didn't have paid sick days at her job. When she got sick and had to undergo emergency gall bladder surgery, she missed work for a week. Despite the fact that her mother notified Lupe's employer about her illness, her employer fired her. Lupe is now looking for a new job.

Workers deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Sick days should be a right and not a privilege. Sign the petition for paid sick days for California workers.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Goblin and Paid Sick Days

For the past year, Megan had worked as a food service worker at a cafeteria in downtown San Jose. Her job didn't pay a lot. However, Megan liked serving the public. She also was able to go to school part-time, because her job had flexible hours.

It was Saturday night and Megan was studying at home for a mid-term. She decided to take a break from studying and get a snack at the cafeteria. She put on her coat and walked quickly. When she was less than a block away from the cafeteria, a goblin stopped her.

"I'm lost," said the goblin, "Can you help me?"

"You're a goblin. I thought that goblins only come out during Halloween," said Megan.

"You're right," replied the goblin. "But I got on this time machine and hit the wrong button. Now, I'm here and I need to find a way to get back to Halloween."

"Well, I don't know anything about time machines," said Megan. "So I can't help you."

"That's okay," said the goblin. "Maybe we could pretend it's Halloween."

"I don't have time," said Megan. "I need to get a snack from where I work and go back to studying."

"Before you go, I need to talk to you about something," said the goblin.

"What?" Megan asked.

"Paid sick days," said the goblin.

"You're goblin. Why do you care about paid sick days?" asked Megan.

"All goblins are entitled to paid sick days," said the goblin. "It's part of our constitution. When we heard that six million California workers didn't have paid sick days, we were shocked. If goblins have paid sick days, so should California workers."

"That makes sense to me," said Megan.

"Do you have paid sick days?" asked the goblin.

"At my job, we don't have paid sick days," replied Megan.

"Do you think that's right?" asked the goblin.

"Of course not," replied Megan. "Three months ago, my co-worker Suzie went to work sick with flu. Suzie is a single mom with a young daughter and really needed to work. The owner told her to go home and wouldn't pay her for her time off. It took a week for Suzie to get well. Suzie lost her apartment because she couldn't pay the rent. She and her daughter are now living in a homeless shelter."

"That's horrible," said the goblin.

"Yeah, I know," said Megan. "But a lot of jobs don't have paid sick days. There's nothing that we can do."

"There is something that you can do," said the goblin. "There's a petition for paid sick days for California workers. You should sign it and tell Suzie and your other co-workers to sign it as well"

"I will sign the petition," said Megan. "And I'll tell everyone. I hope you find your way back to Halloween."

"If I don't, I'll keep telling workers about the paid sick days petition."

"Great," said Megan. "See you later."

Minnesota Workers Fight for Paid Sick Days

In Minnesota, workers are fighting to pass paid sick days legislation. On March 15, Workday Minnesota published an article on this issue. According to its article, "a Minnesota House committee has approved legislation that would provide all Minnesota workers with paid sick days."

The article further cited the special plight of working women who lack paid sick days.

In a system that forces workers to choose between their health and the health of their families and their job, women tend to be disproportionately affected. One testifier, Delinia Parris, knew first hand the grave consequences of current labor practices.

At one point there were eight days when my kids needed me, my daughter had a nervous breakdown, my son got beat up at school and my other son was diagnosed with autism. I was also experiencing health problems and couldn’t go to work and it ended up costing me my job and my apartment,” Parris explained.
Missing a week of work spelled disaster for her family, Parris said. “For a while there my family was homeless just because I couldn’t miss a week of work. People need to know that not every family has a mom and a dad. There are a lot of single mothers, like myself, that have to make it on their own.”

Unfortunately Parris’ story is not uncommon. According to a recent study conducted by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, over 22 million women in the United States work without paid sick leave.

To read more, click here.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Magic Wand and Paid Sick Days

Suzy worked as a cashier at a pet store in San Jose. She had a wad of tissue in her left hand. Her nose was runny and her eyes were red. Her voice was hoarse from coughing.

Her co-worker Jenny tapped her on the shoulder and said, "Suzy, you should go home. If you stay here, you'll get our customers and the animals sick."

"I can't go home," Suzy cried. "I was already off Monday and Tuesday. If I take off today, I won't be able to pay the childcare bill for my daughter Jasmine. And if I don't have childcare, I'll lose my job."

"Can't you ask your folks for help?" Jenny asked.

"Both of my parents are on disability. So they have no money," Suzy replied.

"What about Jasmine's father?" Jenny asked.

"He's two years behind in paid child support. So I don't have a choice about working," said Suzy.

"Yes, you do," said Jenny.

"No, I don't," said Suzy while she wiped her nose with a tissue.

"I have a magic wand," said Jenny while pulling out a magic wand from her bag. "You can make a wish and it will be granted."

"I wish that I never would have to work again," said Suzy.

"Sorry, the wand can't grant that wish," said Jenny. "I got it at a recession sale and it has limited powers."

"What can I wish for?" Suzy asked while coughing.

"Paid sick days," replied Jenny.

"I wish for paid sick days," said Suzy.

Jenny twirled the magic wand and said a few magic words. She then turned to Suzy and said,
"Your wish is granted."

"Really?" asked Suzy.

"Check your e-mail," said Jenny.

Next to Suzy's cash register was the pet store's computer. She logged in and checked her company e-mail. Suzy saw an e-mail from corporate headquarters. It said the following:

Effective today, we are implementing a paid sick day policy. If you are sick, please go home. We will pay you for your time off. We want our workers to be healthy because we serve pet owners and their pets.

"Jenny, thank you for your help," said Suzy. "Is there anything I can do for you?"

"Yes, please sign the petition for paid sick days for California workers and tell everyone you know about the petition," replied Jenny.

"I will do that," said Suzy.

Fifteen States Introduce Paid Sick Days Legislation

The Progressive States Network recently wrote an excellent article about paid sick days legislation. In its article, the Progressive States Network stated:

"Fifteen states have introduced paid sick days legislation to ensure that workers are able to regain their health without losing pay, or even worse, their jobs. These are based on model policies that have already passed in San Francisco, CA, Milwaukee, WI and Washington, DC."

The Progressive States Network further noted:

"During fragile economic times, workers are too often forced to choose between their health, or the health of their kids, and maintaining a paycheck. Paid sick days legislation helps families avoid that tradeoff, while increasing workplace productivity by ensuring that workers don’t have to work while sick, thereby decreasing the spread of disease to coworkers."

To read more, click here.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Popcorn Monster and Paid Sick Days

It was a rainy day. The popcorn monster was sitting at the kitchen table with a bag of cheddar cheese popcorn. She rubbed her tummy. She felt good.

The popcorn monster's cell phone beeped. She looked at her cell phone. It had the following text message:

Emergency: Popcorn workers are sick. They need your help at the store.

The popcorn monster jumped into her car and drove to the popcorn store. When the popcorn monster arrived, the store manager greeted her.

"You're a monster," said the manager. "We can't let you in here."

"Sir, I am one of your biggest customers," said the popcorn monster. "I eat your cheddar cheese popcorn every single hour of the week. I have thousands of bags at my house."

"I've never heard of a monster that eats popcorn," said the manager. "I thought you guys were into scaring people and doing bad things."

"That's just bad press that we've gotten over the centuries," said the popcorn monster. "In reality, we are very caring and gentle. We just hired a new PR firm. Next month, we'll be running ads to promote the virtues of monsters on the Internet, TV and radio."

"What's your campaign slogan?" asked the manager.

"Monsters are good for workers," replied the popcorn monster.

"Why are you here?" asked the manager.

"I received a message that the workers needed my help," replied the popcorn monster. "They apparently are sick."

"Susan must have sent you the message," said the manager. "She has been circulating a petition for paid sick days for the workers."

"What's wrong with that?" asked the popcorn monster.

"Ma'am, we can't afford it, " replied the manager.

"What happens when your workers get sick?" asked the popcorn monster.

"A lot of them come to work," said the manager. "I tell them not to sneeze in the popcorn but sometimes they do."

"That's just nasty," said the popcorn monster in a disgusted tone. "Do your customers complain?"

"Oh my goodness, we've gotten a lot of customer complaints," replied the manager. "Some of our best customers have stopped coming to the store."

"Hasn't that hurt your business?" asked the popcorn monster.

"Yeah, they now are patronizing a popcorn store in San Francisco that has paid sick days for its workers," replied the manager.

"So couldn't you win back some of your customers if you had paid sick days for workers?" asked the popcorn monster.

"Yes," said the manager.

"And with more customers, you would make more money, right?" asked the popcorn monster.

"Yes," replied the manager.

"So doesn't it make sense to provide paid sick days?" asked the popcorn monster.

"You're right," replied the manager. "If our workplace is healthy, customers will want to patronize our store. So it makes sense."

"Good," said the popcorn monster. "So what are you going to do?"

"I will send an e-mail to our workers along with our current customers and customers who've left us about our new policy on paid sick days," replied the manager.

"That's great," said the popcorn monster. "There's one more thing you can do."

"What's that?" asked the manager.

"Tell everyone you know to sign the petition for paid sick days for California workers," replied the popcorn manager.

"I will," said the manager.

Russia and Paid Sick Days

Bay Area Chapter 9to5 board member Dan DeNardo wrote a great story about a Russian immigrant's perspective on paid sick days.

Jenna came from Russia about ten years ago. She and I talked about this subject.

She still can't understand how employers would rather have sick employees come to work infecting many others. And wondering why the Productivity is down? Duh...

In Russia, you get x number of sick days per the number of years you have worked there. So after the first six months, you get 1 day. And it grows up to 10 days maximum.

Especially in these economic tough times, we need to get more productivity, reduce (true) excessive costs (like daily catered executive luncheons), go green and get the most out of every dollar spent in business.

A big thank you to Dan for his awesome story. If you haven't signed the petition for paid sick days for California workers, please do it now.