700,000 working Marylanders deserve earned, paid sick leave

Maryland General Assembly legislators will hold critical committee hearings this week on a bill granting nearly a quarter-million Maryland workers the right to earn paid sick leave on the job. It's important that those members hear how important this issue -- before them for the fourth year in a row -- is to the health of our citizens and our economy.

/PM BlogSpace Report/ Maryland’s progress in supporting struggling families has been significant in recent years – raising the minimum wage toward $15 and hour by stages, for instance.

But there are several pieces to supporting those struggles that remain to be put in place, and one of the biggest is on legislators’ plates – again – this week.

Paid sick leave, which is up for consideration for the fourth straight year, is a critical element in family stability and the chance for people to get traction and improve their lives. As before, it is in danger of committee burial, as Del. David Moon explicitly warned at the Progressive Neighbors forum in Silver Spring Feb. 28. Hearings before those critical House and Senate committees are coming up this week, March 1 and 3 (details below, including a way to express your support to legislators).

Del. Luke Clippinger of Baltimore recently capsulized the needs in The Sun: “For the more than 700,000 Marylanders who are unable to earn paid sick days, abiding by a doctor's orders to stay home and rest can mean forgoing groceries or rent. The choice is even more heart-wrenching for working parents who must decide between sending a sick child to school or day care, versus staying home and missing out on necessary income.”

Clippinger is lead sponsor of HB0580, which allows workers at many levels to earn paid sick days as they work.

Further, Clippinger notes, “Nationally, four in 10 private sector employees are unable to earn paid sick days, and the bottom quarter of earners suffer the most: 75 percent of them don't get paid sick leave. Our most vulnerable workers in Maryland and beyond who are often already living paycheck to paycheck stand the greatest risk of losing their jobs simply because they fall ill.

“Not surprisingly, workers without access to paid sick days are more likely to go to work sick and more likely to delay needed medical care, leading to prolonged illness and costly emergency room visits. When food service workers go to work sick, they put Maryland's public health at risk”

Progressive Maryland is part of the Working Matters coalition advocating for this effort, which stalled in critical committees for the past three years largely due to complaints from business interests that it will hurt the economy. As Clippinger detailed in his op-ed, “these concerns are not borne out by the facts. The experiences of cities and states around the country that have already implemented sick leave laws demonstrate that business climate has been healthy, costs have been minimal and job growth has been strong in municipalities with earned sick leave laws.”

The House bill is the subject of a hearing in the Economic Matters Committee at 1 p.m. Tuesday, March 1 and the Senate version is heard in the Senate Finance Committee at 1 p.m. Thursday, March 3. These are the two committees that have stalled this effort in past years, and Progressive Maryland along with other Working Matters coalition members including broad sectors of the faith community are urging that those who are able to attend those hearings in support of paid sick days do so. Working Matters has circulated a contact template to allow constituents to alert committee members to the importance of these hearings and votes.

Advocates, particularly working mothers, will lobby the legislators individually Tuesday morning before the House hearing.

 

 ACTIVISM SCHEDULE

 March 1 --MomsRising Superhero Lobby Event for Earned Sick Leave

9:30am
Anne Arundel Delegation Room
House Office Building
6 Bladen St. Annapolis, MD 21401
RSVP for superhero lobby event


March 1 --House Economic Matters Committee Hearing

1pm
House Office Building
6 Bladen St. Annapolis, MD 21401


March 3 --Senate Finance Committee Hearing

1pm
Senate Office Building
11 Bladen St. Annapolis, MD 21401