By Art Pulaski, Executive Secretary Treasurer, California Labor Federation
Since the beginning of this pandemic, workers have borne the brunt of this crisis. They’ve been on the frontlines for nearly two years, every day, to keep our economy afloat. Now, with the omicron surge leading to record cases, frontline workers are more at risk than ever. And many are assuming this risk with few protections.
Two-thirds of low-wage workers have no paid sick leave. That means they’re forced to make an impossible choice: Go to work sick or go without wages that they need to keep or roof over their heads. That’s a choice we shouldn’t ever force workers to make.
COVID paid sick leave is a lifeline. Since it expired last year, essential workers like those you heard from today are exposed. They feel expendable. To put it bluntly, we’re failing them.
We appreciate the support from the governor and legislative leadership to reinstate two weeks of COVID paid sick leave for workers. Paid sick leave is one of the most potent weapons we have in the arsenal to fight COVID. We can’t slow the spread if we’re forcing workers to go to work sick. Our economy can’t recover if essential workers are treated as expendable. The time to act is now.
Today we’re calling on the Legislature and governor to act with urgency to reinstate COVID paid sick leave. We need to work at lightspeed to get this done. We’re calling for legislation to be signed and implemented before the end of January. With this devastating surge gripping the state, workers can’t wait.
Here’s what this legislation must include:
- Like the previous COVID paid sick leave law, workers need 80 hours of COVID leave for workers so they can take care of themselves and their families when illness strikes.
- This legislation should be retroactive to cover workers who are getting sick now as omicron cases skyrocket.
- This new law, while temporary, should last at least into the fall. Even beyond this omicron surge, we know that new variants will cause more spikes in the future. Without paid sick leave for workers, we not only put their health at risk, we put the health of our economy and the state at risk.
Extending COVID paid sick leave is a top priority of the California Labor Federation. We demand the Legislature and governor work quickly to get a bill approved and signed to provide relief to the heroes on the frontlines.
Join the effort by signing the #PaidSickLeaveNOW petition.