February 20, 2019

Fighting for Paid Sick Days in LA City Hall

I have lived in Los Angeles for 19 years, but yesterday was my first time ever at LA City Hall. I went to represent NCJW/LA in a joining of the Paid Sick Leave delegation, part of the Raise the Wage Coalition. I was amongst lawyers, workers, organization members, advocates and other professionals involved in the Coalition. We went office to office speaking with LA City Council Members involved in the Economic Development Committee. We spoke with the staff members of Council Members Nury Martinez, Paul Krekorian, Mike Bonin, Bob Blumenfield, Paul Koretz, and Felipe Fuentes.

The leader of the delegation, Kokayi Jitahidi from LAANE, explained why Paid Sick Leave should be passed, some statistics about Paid Sick Leave and who it affects, and urged the Council Members to, at the very least, cosponsor or take charge of this issue. After his” />, workers shared their stories and experiences about the effects of not having paid sick leave and the” /> leaders of non-profit organizations expressed the issue from their points of view. The staff members of the Council Members all expressed great support and interest in this issue. 

This last week, a lot of exciting progress has been made regarding workers and wages. Only a couple days ago the City of Los Angeles voted to approve the historic minimum wage increase in Los Angeles. But, as exciting as this is, a major component of the Raise the Wage Campaign has not been receiving enough attention: Paid Sick Leave.

Paid Sick Leave is a crucial component of the wage parity and economic justice discussion because when many workers in Los Angeles fall ill, have injuries, or are enduring mental health issues and need to take time off to recover, they are not paid during their time off. To avoid not getting paid, workers and employees come to work regardless of their condition, which can lead to further injury and public health issues.

For example, as mentioned in the ” /> via lab tests.   In another instance, a woman who was in the Raise the Wage delegation shared her personal experience, in which she was experiencing health issues and happened to faint while working in retail. After the incident, she noticed her hours were gradually being cut down, going from a full time job to working one shift a week. She began anticipating a lay off and started searching for other” />.

So what does this show? It shows that employees are so concerned about missing work to avoid not receiving pay or being terminated that they show up to work sick and put the public and themselves at risk. The people most vulnerable are low income workers because they cannot afford to miss a paycheck due to unpaid time off or leave. ” /> during their leave, we can avoid retaliation,” />, and public health issues.

Paid Sick Leave is also a women’s issue. As I learned in the delegation, statistics show that parents and caretakers use about one third of their income on childcare. Paid Sick Leave would extend the” /> of sick days and pay workers for their time off, alleviating the financial burden of childcare. Instead of spending so much of their income on childcare, they could use their paid sick days to take care of their kids instead of needing to pay someone else to!

This was my first time doing this kind of advocacy and, as an NCJW/LA representative, I was there to be an ally to the workers who were there sharing their stories.  I found the experience to be extremely interesting and eye” />. It was amazing to learn how easy it is to be in contact with our local elected officials. I have always assumed that unless you hold significant power or leverage there is not much that every day people and citizens can effectively do. My internship at NCJW/LA has completely proved this wrong and I am so grateful that I now know this is not the case. Simply calling or emailing Senators or Representatives is an easy and powerful way to inform leaders of their constituents’ voices. After all, their job is to” /> and represent our voice, right?

In my delegation experience, I witnessed LA workers and residents tell their stories and opinions directly to their leaders. This was very empowering. I have always been told that I have a voice and that I need to express it, however, I never really knew how to do that. This experience showed me how!