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Spokane City Council holds firm on commitment to paid sick days

January 26, 2016

Photo: James Hawley/Flickr Creative Commons [Original: https://flic.kr/p/6oegMc]

Photo: James Hawley/Flickr Creative Commons [Original: https://flic.kr/p/6oegMc]

Spokane’s City Council held firm on their commitment to assuring that people working in the city will be able to earn paid sick and safe leave starting next January. Mayor Condon vetoed  the law that passed January 11 with a 6 to 1 vote, saying he hoped the Council would reconsider. But the Council acted to override that veto at their next meeting, January 25, 2016.

Over the past two years, hundreds of workers, business owners, and community leaders turned out to talk about what a paid sick days ordinance would mean to them. The overwhelming majority of them favored passing an ordinance to protect public health, allow survivors of domestic violence to seek safety, and boost family economic security.

Without sick leave standards in place, four in ten workers don’t get a single day of paid sick leave, and many more face penalties at work when they do call in sick. Spokane’s new law will allow people to stay home from work when sick without losing income. Sick children won’t be left miserable at school or home alone because a parent can’t take off work. And as Carol Krawczyk of the Spokane Alliance and I said in our Spokane Spokesman-Review op-ed:

Customers of Spokane businesses will be able to rest a little easier next year when the law takes effect, knowing the person serving their salad, caring for a loved one in a nursing home or handling their store purchase isn’t being forced by family finances or employer policy to come in sick.

Spokane is the third city in Washington state to pass paid sick leave. Next November, voters statewide will likely have the chance to weigh in on a ballot measure providing a minimum standard for paid sick leave for workers across the state, along with an increase in the minimum wage.

Marilyn Watkins is policy director for the Economic Opportunity Institute, which spearheads the Washington Work and Family Coalition.

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