Today Paid Sick Days Milwaukee, a coalition of labor, educational and community organizations, delivered over 42,000 signatures to the Milwaukee Common Council. The effort was lead by 9 to 5, National Association of Working Women. They are asking the council to pass a requirement that all businesses in Milwaukee provide employees with paid sick day benefits. The council can either vote on it themselves or they could put the measure on the November ballot.
The proposed ordinance would require all private businesses in Milwaukee to give their workers one hour of paid sick time for every 30 hours worked. Full-time employees for a large business would earn 72 hours a year. Smaller businesses (with 10 or fewer employees) would only be required to provide 40 hours a year in paid sick days. The days could be taken for illness, medical care for the worker, for their children, parents or any other person related to the worker.
Supporters stood behind key speakers in the Monday press conference in the Milwaukee City Hall’s rotunda. Representatives from the faith community, labor, the teaching profession, a doctor and others spoke at the press conference in support of a paid sick day ordinance. Each shared about, how from their unique perspectives, that giving all workers these benefits was just the right thing to do. Some told stories of sick kids not being able to go home because parents could not leave work, while others talked about it as an issue of public health and fairness.
Powerful business interests will likely protest the passage of the Paid Sick Days Milwaukee proposal. As with everything in the area of labor standards, large corporations often predict dire consequences. Even though they run this same drill every time, their predictions are often forgotten because they are so often wrong and rarely come to pass. A statement from Legacy Bank was read during the press conference which made the case that having paid sick days is good business and creates a much better and more manageable environment for both employers and their workers. When the press conference was over, a group of children lead a procession to the Common Council’s office with several boxes of petitions.