Paid Sick Leave Wins Big in Milwaukee

Friday, November 14, 2008 | Margy's Blog & Updates

On November 4, Milwaukee made its voice heard, becoming the third US city to guarantee paid sick leave to workers. 69% of city voters cast ballots in favor of the measure to give full-time workers 9 paid sick days per year. While business leaders continued to voice their opposition to the referendum, Milwaukee residents decided that this is one work/life policy that everyone deserves.

In September, the Institute for Women's Policy Research published the results of a cost/benefit analysis of the paid sick leave measure, which found that "the new standard will directly benefit more than 75,000 Milwaukee workers who currently lack paid sick days and provide net savings to Milwaukee employers of $15 million per year, largely from reduced costs of turnover." 

At The Mobility Agenda, we have written about the importance of paid sick leave and other crucial work life policies before (see our Work-Life page  or read our recent report, Work-Life Policies for the Twenty-First Century Economy). And while workers everywhere can applaud Milwaukee's victory, it is little comfort to the millions of workers and families around the country whose work and survival remains vulnerable to an unanticipated illness. Paid sick leave is crucial not only to individual workers, but their families and larger communities as well - the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recognized a lack of paid sick days as a public health concern. That is particularly true in the service industry, whose workers come into close contact with the public on a daily basis.

Paid sick leave is important to healthy communities and a strong economy - and not just in Milwaukee. It ensures that workers are able to meet work, family, and social obligations that keep America running. Federal and state policymakers and employers should build on Milwaukee's success by guaranteeing paid sick days for all workers.


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Memo to Congress: The Labor Market has Changed! Paid Leave is a Necessity

Friday, April 18, 2008 | Margy's Blog & Updates

Here’s an update from The Mobility Agenda’s Senior Research Associate Sarah Sattelmeyer and Executive Director Margy Waller, coauthors of a forthcoming report on work-life policies for the United States

A work-life policy expansion for federal employees is running into some trouble as it moves through Congress, according to today’s Washington Post:

Yesterday, Rep. Kenny Marchant (Tex.), the ranking Republican on the federal workforce subcommittee, and Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said that they were concerned about the cost of providing paid parental leave and whether this was the time to grant a new benefit to federal employees.

Federal employees should not receive increased benefits during an economic slowdown, when companies are cutting back, Issa said. By considering paid parental leave for them, “we are making a statement that we are out of touch,” he said.

Is Representative Issa overlooking some important changes in our economy and labor market:

In her statement yesterday, Maloney thanked Waxman and the subcommittee chairman, Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-Ill.), for moving the bill toward a full committee vote and a floor vote.

The American workplace, she said, has not kept pace with the changing needs of families, especially those that “no longer have a stay-at-home parent to provide care for a new child.”

Outdated family-leave policies, she said, “are a talent drain on the government — they’re an incentive for skilled people to look elsewhere for work at the very time when our government needs them most.”

The Mobility Agenda’s forthcoming report on work-life policy proposals to strengthen the economy and our labor market addresses these issues. Watch for it soon!