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Resolutions & Amendments

40th International Convention - Los Angeles, CA (2012)


Resolution No. 70
40th International Convention
Los Angeles Convention Center
June 18 - 22, 2012
Los Angeles, CA


            No workers should have to choose between their health and their jobs.  However, millions of workers must make this decision every time they get sick or a family member needs care. Since nearly 40 million private-sector workers are not offered a single paid sick day to recover from common, short-term illnesses, when they get sick they have to go to work.  They even have to send their children to school sick or they risk losing their jobs or forgoing a paycheck; and


            Millions of other workers, private and public, don’t have access to paid sick days because they haven’t been on the job long enough to be eligible, or in cases of long-term illness, they have already exhausted all their paid sick leave.  Millions more lack paid sick time to care for a sick child, spouse or partner and they must choose to work over their health or family wellness in order to keep food on the table and, in some cases, keep their jobs; and


            Going to work sick or “presenteeism” is a public health issue, with sick workers spreading contagious disease to fellow co-workers and customers, resulting in additional lost productivity and low morale; and


            Current U.S. labor law does not require employers to provide short-term paid sick days or longer-term paid sick leave.  Current U.S. law does not even protect all workers from being fired when they miss work due to illness. The 1993 Family and Medical Leave Act requires certain employers (those with 50 or more employees) to provide a subset of employees (those who have worked for their employer for at least 1,250 hours in the 12 months prior to the leave) with unpaid leave to address only certain circumstances, when the worker or a close family member (limited to a child, parent, or spouse) has a “serious health condition” (not a common illness); and


            The United States is the only country among similarly developed industrialized countries that has no legal provisions for guaranteed paid sick days or leave of some form. Five U.S. states (California, Hawaii, New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island) have legislation that provides eligible workers with temporary disability benefits that can provide paid sick leave for temporary illnesses that last longer than seven work days, and three U.S. cities (Milwaukee, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.) have also passed legislation requiring that most employers provide a limited number of paid sick days to most employees.  However, the existing patchwork of employer policies and state and local legislation leaves a large portion of the workforce without paid sick days and leave, especially impacting low-wage and part-time workers, who are disproportionately women; and


            At a time when families’ finances are stretched thin and losing a job can mean months of unemployment, working families need a paid sick day standard; and


            The Healthy Family Act would set a national standard for paid sick days; allowing workers in businesses with 15 or more employees to earn sick leave days; allowing victims of domestic violence, stalking, or sexual assault to use paid sick days and allowing workers to provide care for a sick family member.


            That AFSCME will support and lobby for the passage of the Healthy Family Act as an important step toward securing paid sick leave for all workers.  American working families need the job protection that paid sick days offer; and


            That AFSCME will support city and state legislation intended to enact paid sick days for all workers.


Juan Fernandez, President and Delegate
Egbert Isaacs, Delegate
Sheera S. Glass, Delegate
Thomas Orawiec, Delegate
Alan Mendelson, Delegate
Diana Thillet, Alternate Delegate
Juliet White, Alternate Delegate
AFSCME Local 154, District Council 37
New York