I could not be more thrilled that President Obama’s State of Union addressed issues of income inequality and the barriers that keep hardworking people from succeeding.
And I am thankful that Rep. Chang, D-Detroit, and Sen. Ananich, D-Flint, introduced bills in the Michigan House and Senate last week that will address one of these barriers. Their bill would ensure that Michigan workers have access to paid sick days.
For the 1.5 million Michigan workers who do not currently have access to paid sick days, getting sick likely means one of two things: going to work sick and therefore being less productive, possibly getting co-workers and customers sick, or staying home to recover, missing a day of pay and getting behind on bills. This is an unfair choice for low-wage workers particularly.
While there may not be the political will to pass Rep. Chang and Sen. Ananich’s bills, their colleague aims to ensure no local governments try to make up for the Legislature’s inaction: Rep. Poleski, R-Jackson, introduced a bill that would pre-empt local municipalities from taking action on issues like paid sick days.
Rather than setting a cap on the benefits local municipalities can provide for their residents, the Legislature should be setting a respectable bar, over which local governments can go if they so choose.
Having guaranteed paid sick days would ensure that no one would get left behind because of an unexpected problem at home. Guaranteeing workers the right to earn paid sick days would result in reduced job turnover, which saves business owners time and money by reducing interviews, training, and the need to advertise openings.
And when less people go to work or school sick, we all are more likely to get through flu season without getting the flu.
Economic Justice Alliance of Michigan