On September 10 Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1522 into law. The landmark legislation dramatically expands labor benefits for an estimated 6.5 million private-sector workers (including seasonal, part- and full-time employees), mandating they earn at least three paid sick leave days a year from their employers, effective July 1, 2015.
“AB 1522 is transformative,” the bill’s author, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), told Capital & Main. Gonzalez, who chairs the Assembly’s Select Committee on Women in the Workplace, added: “If you look back in history California has always led the way in furthering workers’ rights, from the minimum wage to an eight-hour workday.”
Before Governor Brown signed AB 1522, about 39 percent of the state’s labor force earned no paid sick leave benefits. As a result many workers faced two undesirable options when ill: Stay home and lose pay, or show up to work and expose others,
Politics is the art of compromise. On this note, Capital & Main asked Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) about the removal of 365,000 In Home Support Service (IHSS) workers from Assembly Bill 1522, the paid sick leave bill she authored. (See “Landmark Sick Leave Law Signed.”) The measure, signed into law September 10, grants this employment benefit to 6.5 million private-sector workers statewide. It takes effect on July 1, 2015. IHSS workers help the disabled and elderly with their daily household and medical needs. According to the Economic Policy Institute, nationally 93 percent of such workers are female, with 27 percent of them Hispanic and 18 percent African American.
“At the end of the day,” Assemblywoman Gonzalez said, “we were forced to take that specific group out. “It was a condition of having the bill signed by Governor Brown. His view is that IHSS workers are in the middle of statewide bargaining,
Assembly Bill 1522, created to give all California workers at least three days of paid sick leave, passed the legislature Friday, but with a key change: In-home health-care workers who assist disabled and elderly Californians will now be excluded from coverage. The compromise resulted in two important union backers of the bill, authored by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), to withdraw their support.
According to the Sacramento Bee, “The Service Employees International Union and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees abandoned the bill after it was rewritten to exempt home health-care workers.”
Another closely watched measure, Senate Bill 270, also passed its final hurdle Friday, the Los Angeles Times reports. The bill, authored by senators Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) and Ricardo Lara (D-Huntington Park/Long Beach), will ban single-use plastic bags in grocery stores and other retail outlets.
To the sources of airborne diseases brought in from schools, hospitals and airliners, add a new threat: Thousands of low-paid food handlers who are compelled by economic circumstances to remain on the job even when they are ill. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “Infected food workers cause about 70 percent of reported norovirus outbreaks from contaminated food.” The CDC’s recommendations for containment include, “Requiring sick food workers to stay home, and considering use of paid sick leave and on-call staffing, to support compliance.”
Yet many of these workers have no paid sick leave and, in some cases, have claimed they risk losing their jobs if they stay home with the flu or a cold. From Orange County to South and East Los Angeles, however, hundreds of workers at El Super, which is the largest grocery chain in California’s exploding Latino food market, are demanding their employer provide sick leave pay.
More than four in 10 private-sector workers and 80 percent of low-wage workers do not have paid sick days. This means people, especially women who are more likely to work in low-wage jobs, constantly have to choose between their health and a paycheck.
A post in Jezebel, brought to you by the AFL-CIO, explains why the lack of paid sick days causes a ripple effect on our health and communities:
“In fact, more than 80 percent of low-wage workers don’t receive a single paid sick day all year. This contributes to the creation of a sickness loop: Contagious kids go to school because mom can’t stay home with them; expensive emergency room trips are made that could’ve been prevented; employees show up to work and spread viruses to their customers and co-workers.
When young women can’t stay home to get their sleep and soup on,