In June, Connecticut became the first state to require private employers to provide paid sick leave. The US is the only country in the industrialized world with no national requirement for employers to provide paid sick leave. Under the new Connecticut law, workers are entitled to earn one hour of paid sick leave for every thirty hours worked, up to a total of seven paid sick days a year. The bill specifically focuses on low paid service sector jobs, involving day care, nursing home, home care and fast food and big box (e.g. Wal-Mart) retail workers and school bus drivers. Manufacturing jobs (which, for the most part, already provide paid sick leave) and construction jobs (which mainly involve short term employment) are exempt from the new law, as are firms with fewer than fifty employees.
The Working Families Party
Connecticut's Working Families Party (WFP), which has been lobbying for paid sick leave since 2002, is claiming credit for the new law. Working Families is an independent grassroots party founded in New York in 1998. WFP has sister parties not only in Connecticut, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Delaware and Oregon.
In 2010 the Connecticut WFP was instrumental in electing progressive Democrat Dan Malloy as governor, as well as numerous progressives to the state legislature. Through sustained grassroots organizing, the WFP attracted 26,000 votes for Malloy According to Scott Whipple, writing in the New Britain Herald, Malloy's WFP votes exceeded his margin of victory. (see http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives or http://ct-workingfamilies.org/2010/12/working-families-party-made-a-difference-in-election-results/).
Cities with Paid Sick Leave Laws
Three cities (San Francisco, Washington DC and Milwaukee have passed city ordinances requiring private employers to provide paid sick leave. The Milwaukee ordinance is currently in the courts, after Republican Government Scott Walker signed a state law of questionable legality which would preempt implementation of the citywide law voters passed by referendum in 2008.
Activists are lobbying for New York, Seattle, Denver and Philadelphia to pass similar ordinances. In New York City, advocates built a veto-proof majority on Council last term, and are lobbying Council Speaker Christine Quinn to stop blocking a vote on their bill. In Seattle, activists expect to see their bill introduced to the Seattle City Council later this month.
In Denver, activists are about to begin gathering signatures to put a citywide ordinance on the November ballot.
The Philadelphia City Council passed a paid sick leave bill in June, which was vetoed by Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter. Nutter, a prominent Obama supporter, seems very unlikely to be re-elected this fall, due to plummeting popularity ratings.
More information about the Connecticut Working Families Party and other state and local campaigns to implement paid sick leave at the following links: