This week, Seattle’s City Council voted 8-1 to make their city the fourth major city in the nation — following Washington, D.C., Milwaukee and San Francisco — to enact legislation ensuring that workers will not have to choose between keeping their jobs and getting the health care they or a family member need. Earlier this year, conservative state legislators struck down Milwaukee’s law, enacted by a 70-30 percent majority in a 2008 ballot initiative, by passing a bill stripping local governments of the power to regulate family and medical leave. This victory for Seattle families continues the positive national momentum of paid sick days legislation, which was also enacted statewide in Connecticut earlier this year, and which promises to continue to be a priority for lawmakers seeking economic security for their constituents across the nation in cities and states next year. It also comes at a time when some tragic, real-life stories of families affected by a lack of paid sick days are emerging, reinforcing the need for this critical measure.
Last week, the Connecticut Senate approved landmark legislation (SB 913) to establish paid sick leave as a vital economic and health security measure. The bill is now before the House of Representatives, where it enjoys strong support. Governor Daniel Malloy has advocated the legislation throughout the session, and campaigned as a champion of the policy in both the primary and general elections last year. Enactment of SB 913 would set a precedent as the first state-wide law broadly granting workers the right to accrue paid time off.
Last week, lawmakers in Maine enacted the first significant pro-worker law to come out of this year’s session. The Work-Sharing Bill, LD 269, creates a program that will help save thousands of jobs in future economic downturns. It passed with unanimous support in both legislative chambers in a session that has been characterized, like many other states’ sessions, by attacks on workers’ rights and the middle class.