Ahead of tonight’s State of the Union address, Spokane, Washington passed a law guaranteeing residents the right to paid sick leave when they or their family members fall sick, or to deal with sexual assault and domestic abuse.
Last year, President Obama called on Congress to pass national legislation that would guarantee all American workers the right to earn paid sick days, something those who live in all other developed countries are entitled to. But while waiting on Congress for action, Obama also called on cities and states around the country to pass legislation of their own.
Spokane became the latest to heed that call on Monday night. The legislation will require businesses with 10 or fewer employees to allow them to earn up to three paid days off a year, and larger ones to give workers five days. While the mayor has said he will veto it, the bill passed on a six-to-one vote and the council only needs five votes to override him. The bill exempts construction workers, those doing work-study jobs, and seasonal and temporary employees. A survey conducted by the city council found that 28 percent of city residents don’t get paid sick leave, concentrated among those who earn the least.
Since Obama’s call, seven cities and the state of Oregon passed sick leave laws, bringing the country’s total to 27, now 28 with Spokane’s vote. More than 10 million Americans are now covered by a guarantee to earn paid sick leave.
Yet even with all of these laws on the books, about 40 percent of Americans don’t get paid sick leave at work, particularly those who earn the least.