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Flu virus
This flu virus will make you miserable. But it's policymakers who make you go to work with the flu.
Apparently a major flu outbreak is what it takes to get some attention on the plight of the 40 million American workers who lack paid sick leave. Granted, the attention is more on the public health risks involved when people are forced to choose between staying home when they're sick and paying their bills and less on how much it sucks to have to make that choice, but it's progress. And the facts are compelling:
Employees without sick days are more likely to go to work with a contagious illness, send an ill child to school or day care and use hospital emergency rooms for care, according to a 2010 survey by the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center. A 2011 study in the American Journal of Public Health estimated that a lack of sick time helped spread 5 million cases of flu-like illness during the 2009 swine flu outbreak.
Meanwhile, in the United States, only Connecticut, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Seattle have mandatory paid sick leave. A sick leave bill remains stalled in New York City because Council Speaker Christine Quinn won't allow it to come to a vote—even though it has the votes needed to pass and widespread public support. Quinn is making all the usual noises a Democrat afraid to piss off business owners makes about how it would be a burden on small businesses in a difficult economy, but, Columbia University sociologist Shamus Khan writes:
[...] after the city of San Francisco passed a paid-sick-leave bill, it had higher rates of employment compared with its neighboring cities without such a policy. Paid sick leave works. Employees are not only likely to use it, helping stem the spread of disease, they’re also more likely to use preventative-health-care services. The Center for American Progress estimates that universal sick leave could reduce emergency-room visits by 1.3 million per year, saving the U.S. over a billion dollars in medical costs.
Every politician who opposes paid sick leave should first have to eat all their meals in restaurants staffed by cooks and waiters who have the flu, then be required not only to go to work sick but to get to the gym for a solid workout a couple times during the day to better understand what it's like to be a waiter or a cook working with the flu.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 02:37 PM PST.

Also republished by ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I love your photo! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Arlys, FloridaSNMOM
  •  I have mixed feelings on this issue. (0+ / 0-)

    What if people use all of their PTO on vacations, then they come to work sick because they already used their PTO?  

    Say "No" to Chained CPI.

    by Arlys on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 02:49:06 PM PST

  •  my employer is not complying (5+ / 0-)

    i finally got them to put up the wage and labor law posters- can you believe they weren't even doing that?

    i've accepted that i have to file a complaint w/ the labor commissioner. they just refuse to do what they're supposed to.

    i just started working for them in november- i'm not even eligible until i work 680 hours. even once i'm eligible i won't take sick leave unless i'm the one who's sick. i have an excellent babysitter who prefers to watch my kids when they're sick rather than lose $$.

    it just pisses me off that my coworkers are being taken advantage of.

    "...i also also want a legally binding apology." -George Rockwell

    by thankgodforairamerica on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 03:38:57 PM PST

  •  Every time I heard a news report (9+ / 0-)

    on how bad this flu season was and then heard them admonishing people to stay home from work if they were sick, I found myself almost yelling that if corporate America wasn't so damned greedy and provided their workers with sick leave like every other industrialized nation so they could afford to stay home when they were sick and still be able to buy food and medicine to combat their illness, then workers would stay home when they were sick!!!!  

    Every common illness I ever came down with while I was still in the work force could be traced right back to a sick co-worker.   And, I could not get angry at that co-worker because I understood why they were working when they should have been home in bed.  I did the same thing once I caught it because I was walking that same tightrope without a safety net.  It isn't rocket science; it's common sense.  But greed seems to trump common sense, at least in this country.

    Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring and integrity, they think of you. H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

    by Ellen Columbo on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 03:48:32 PM PST

    •  All mine (3+ / 0-)

      Have come from people sending sick children to school/daycare, thereby infecting my kids, who then graciously share with me. In most cases, the sick kids went to day care because the parent couldn't take time off.

      There was a time in my daughter's elementary school (before we started homeschooling), when they had to shut the school down to disinfect it due to a rampant strep infection that kept going around and around, because parents kept sending sick children to school. The only way to end it was to close the school, disinfect it, then not open again until there had been time for the kids to get over it (they timed the closure for a couple of days before winter vacation).  They sent home notices to parents explaining what they were doing, and providing tips for preventing strep infections. It broke the cycle, but was an extreme measure that wouldn't have been required had kids been kept home because their parents had the option to stay home with them.

      •  I must say that the only time I did (3+ / 0-)

        stay home from work was when my child was sick.  There was just no way I was going to send him to a child care facility (I had to go back to work when he was 3 months old) or to school when he was sick and needed me to take care of him.  

        Unfortunately, when my son was exposed to strep, he would come down with Scarletina, rather than strep throat, which is highly contagious and necessitates a week of quarantine.  He caught it twice from pre-school exposure before the age of five.  Fortunately, by the time he was old enough for K-12, he was a very healthy child and was seldom sick.  

        Live so that when your children think of fairness, caring and integrity, they think of you. H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

        by Ellen Columbo on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 04:23:20 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Well.... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvaire, Silvia Nightshade

    We get 'personal time' to use as we wish.
    It certainly can be used for sick time.  Sounds pretty good, right?
    If we're sick, we do get to use 'personal time', however, we get demerits because we didn't plan the personal time.  Forget about doctors notes, forget if you're in the hospital, it's a demerit.  After a certain number of those demerits, and you're out on your a**.  So much for sick time.
    Bottom line, everyone comes to work sick and spreads their germs and infects and re-infects everyone else.
    Now that really IS sick time.

    I think, therefore I am........................... Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose....AKA Engine Nighthawk - don't even ask!

    by Lilyvt on Tue Jan 22, 2013 at 07:35:47 PM PST

  •  I worked for a "progressive" retail company (0+ / 0-)

    that guaranteed its minimum wage and barely above workers ten sick days a year.  But heaven help you if you used five, you were on the list to be harassed and constantly told you were taking too much, and shouldn't take any more.  

    And if you got up to seven days?  Your job was in jeopardy.

    Not just for that year either...

    •  UGH I hear you. (0+ / 0-)

      I worked for a major retailer for a while, and you get a number of freebie days to call off, for sick, or car broke down, or whatever; they're strictly for unplanned stuff.  I think it was five days per year.  Once you used your second one you had to have a "talking to" by your direct supervisor.  After a third day you were written up.  It's like WTF why say we have the days then punish us when we use them?

      "I don't want a unicorn. I want a fucking pegasus. And I want it to carry a flaming sword." -mahakali overdrive

      by Silvia Nightshade on Wed Jan 23, 2013 at 07:21:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I know! Right! (0+ / 0-)

        And they used it as a recruiting tool, like "we give you 10 days a year!!" but forgot to say "better hope you don't get the flu!"

        Very nice name, Silvia Nightshade.

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