It's time for Oregon to lead on paid sick days

By Angelica Maduell of Portland, Oregon. Angelica is a freelance writer, marketer and political activist.

This week marks the beginning of the next great nationwide expansion of workplace rights for women and families. On Wednesday, Gov. Jerry Brown (D-Calif.) signed the country's second statewide paid sick days bill. Although this bill and others like it cover men and women equally, it impacts the working family the most. Equality in the workplace is still far from being realized—even 50 years after the civil rights era—but earned paid sick days for everyone moves women closer to achieving that dream.

Currently, we are witnessing the preliminary momentum of a movement building energy from laws passed in Seattle, Connecticut, New York City, Portland & Eugene, OR, and several other cities across the U.S. We don’t know when the tipping point will be reached, but the scales are shifting in favor of working women.

The Need for Paid Sick Days in Oregon

Nearly half of Oregon’s private sector employees don’t earn paid sick days. For these Oregonians, a day off work means they are short on rent and short on food. Taking care of yourself or your sick child should not mean risking your home and your ability to provide. Main Street small business owners understand that particularly well, since they are often family-operated.

If it’s the parent that is sick, they are likely going to go to work anyway. This puts their co-workers at risk of catching their illness, and puts the sick worker at risk for developing something more serious, not to mention the loss of productivity in the workplace. The entire labor force suffers when people can’t afford to take a sick day.

Economic Stability & Paid Sick Days

Working women and families deserve a fair shot at a stable life. They need to be able to afford to take a day off work to take care of family, or go to a doctor’s appointment in the middle of day. If women and working families have financial stability, then workplaces will be more stable, and the entire U.S. economy becomes that much more stable.

When our mothers and sisters succeed, the entire community thrives. Businesses on Main Street rely on the support from the community to keep them growing and strong. A healthier, more financially stable workforce is just what the doctor ordered.

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