Sick Leave For All  

Recently, in DC, Republican incumbent Carol Schwartz has come under fire for her advocacy of and vote for the paid sick leave bill that made its way through Council. Although the bill was extraordinarily weak and pathetic, it’s still a step in the right direction. Her opponent in the Republican primary has been out bashing her for the endorsements she’s received from labor, while he’s also been intimating that Republicans and unions don’t mix (um, does he remember the 80’s and the unfortunate Teamsters’ endorsements? Or IAFF’s endorsement of DeWine in Ohio over Sherrod Brown?), clearly, he’s an idiot who can raise money and thereby threaten an entrenched Republican (I’m yawning here), good for him, even if he's an idiot.

Now, it appears that this little race, and more specifically the issue of paid sick leave, has some very interesting national implications that the AP (I know, the dreaded AP which seems to be cleaning up their act) actually reported today (not the local race, the implication of it on the nation):

Some 46 million U.S. workers lack paid sick days, but lawmakers in 12 states — including California, Connecticut, Minnesota and West Virginia — have proposed legislation in the past year that would require businesses to provide them.


The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that 43 percent of the private industry labor force worked in 2007 without paid sick time, a group primarily made up of low-paid employees at small businesses.

That means that the waitresses at your table, the cooks in your kitchens and the school bus drivers (who aren’t yet unionized through the Teamsters' efforts) are helping you to a nice heaping serving of whatever they are carrying from viruses to bacteria. They’re treating you to more and more sickness. I know, it’s sweet, isn’t it?

But fear not, if you live in DC, and don’t work in the food industry or health care industry, are on the job for at least a year, you might be able to qualify for prorated sick days depending on how many hours you work up to a maximum number of days. I know complicated, I prefer how San Francisco did it:

Paid sick days are already law in Washington, D.C., where employees earn days off based on the number of hours worked and the size of the business, and in San Francisco, which requires one hour sick leave for every 30 hours worked.

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association, which represents 900 restaurants, did not endorse or oppose the ballot measure that enacted the local ordinance, but won several changes, such as allowing employers to require a worker give "reasonable notice" when calling in sick, said Kevin Westlye, executive director. The law has been successful, he said.

"There's been some concern that employees are abusing the ordinance. There's been a little bit of that, but not as widespread as people thought at the beginning," Westlye said.

Interesting, no abuse and the association didn't bother to step into it, sweet.

But what you should pay attention to is who currently supports such measures on the national level, because if we’re fortunate enough to elect him President:

Sen. Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, supports the legislation.

I suppose the real thing to think about here is why vote for anyone other than Obama? But in DC... you have a choice as a Republican in the primary on September 9th, supporting an incumbent concerned with some citizen’s services and a guy who seems to think just like John McCain. Hmm, which should DC voters chose? Hmm, they both kind of suck.

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