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Category: Politics, Health

Paid Sick Leave: A Women's Issue?

| January 5, 2012

Over at The Nation, Katrina vanden Heuvel has written a provocative piece on the progress of the fight for paid sick leave across the United States. Connecticut has made history as the first state to guarantee paid sick leave for all working residents. But is this a "common sense protection for working people," as vanden Heuvel asserts? So far there have been victories in only three US cities: San Francisco, Washington DC, and the latest--Seattle. Vanden Heuvel wonders whether in 2012 the spirit of the Occupy Movement will galvanize more activists to fight for what she calls "economic sanity."

This month, New York City will decide whether to pass a bill requiring living wage for workers on large, city-funded development projects. Van Heuvel marks this decision as a reform that would "make a big difference in the day-to-day lives of millions of Americans." Katherine Bowers adds to the conversation in an article for Working Mother where she argues that paid sick leave is a definitive women's issue. Of low income workers she writes, "When they have a sick child, these workers don’t just risk a day’s pay, but, potentially, their jobs if they stay home. It’s a burden that falls most heavily on women, who are more likely to be primary caregivers and twice as likely to be in the low-wage bracket, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics."

The movement for paid sick leave reform has seen the impressive collaboration of a diverse set of organizations and communities. As van Heuvel points out, "labor, women’s groups, doctors, nurses, antipoverty groups, retirees, and enlightened business owners" have all joined forces in the fight to defend workers' rights.