No parent should ever have to make the choice between earning a paycheck, or taking care of her sick child.
My brother and I grew up in a single parent household as the sons of one of the hardest working women on the planet. My mother is truly magical; as a single mom, she raised me, my brother, got her Master’s degree, held more than one job at once, and adopted a little girl along the way.
Unfortunately, my little brother and I got sick very often as infants and children, and often times had to receive medical attention for our illnesses. The jobs my mom worked did not provide paid sick time, so my mother had to make the choice between staying at work to receive a paycheck to pay the bills, or taking off work to take care of whichever son of hers was sick. This is a choice far too many working parents are forced to make every single day.
I had pneumonia twice before I celebrated my first birthday. The first time I got it, my mom took off work to take me to the doctor, and her boss wrote her up. The second time I got it, I was rushed to the emergency room, and the doctors thought I wouldn’t survive, so my mom took off work again. Only this time, she was fired from her job.
No parent should ever have to lose their job or lose a paycheck for being a good parent and taking care of their sick child. Right now, in Minneapolis, there are no protections ensuring you don’t lose your job for taking time off to take care of yourself or your family.
This is why I’m excited to work on passing paid sick time so that no one who works in Minneapolis will ever be faced with such a tough choice.
Community organizations like NOC organized, mobilized, and strategized to pass earned sick and safe time across the city. Because of our diligent advocacy, the City designed the 15 member Workplace Partnership Group to delve deeper into this issue. The WPG was designed as a body that would be tasked with studying the effects of a citywide paid sick time policy, and make recommendations to the mayor and city council on what steps should be taken to address the public health needs of our marginalized populations. It is made up of individuals who represent business (small and large), business associations, workers, and labor. As an appointed member of the partnership, my job is to advocate for working people and their families.
As a part of our work, we have been incredibly intentional about hearing from every possible group in the city. We’ve hosted 14 “listening sessions” which are designed to get maximum public feedback about our work, and to hear from people what a solution looks like. We’ve gotten strong feedback that policy to make sure everyone has access to paid sick time is desired, and we expect that businesses will also benefit by making sure their workers are protected and are not showing up to work sick.
We know that the people who are least likely to have earned sick and safe time are black and brown, and overwhelmingly women. Not only is this a great chance to make sure workers can take care of themselves and their families, but passing earned sick and safe time across the city will close the gap between those who have sick time and those who do not.
I’ve heard loud and clear from NOC members that we need this passed and we need it passed now. In order to do that, we will need everyone’s help. In a city with the vast economic disparities that we have, we have a responsibility to take every opportunity we can to at least make a dent in those gaps. Providing access to paid sick time for all workers would be a huge step.