BLOG: They are trying to kill the paid sick day bill.

Apparently, the conservative business lobby is calling the shots in Montpelier and people have the right to be outraged. This is how broken our democracy is becoming. Democrats and Progressives have super-majority control of the Vermont House (101-49) and Vermont Senate (23-7), and we have a Democrat as Governor with Peter Shumlin. But despite the fact that an incredibly broad range of groups are pushing hard for paid sick days and most everyone in Vermont thinks its a great idea that is long overdue, lawmakers are telling us the bill maybe be dead because of fear tactics of the business lobby.  

Here’s the situation. Last year a bill was introduced to establish paid sick days for all workers, and after public pressure in the final weeks of last year’s session it was finally given a public hearing by the House Committee on General, Housing & Military Affairs. At that hearing over 150 people came out and the testimony in favor of the bill was overwhelmingly supportive (62-3). Without enough time to move forward, the legislative leaders put it off until this year, but it was expected to have an excellent chance to pass. Democrats and Progressives have super-majority control of the Vermont House (101-49) and Vermont Senate (23-7), and we have a Democrat as Governor with Peter Shumlin. A broad range of over 40 organizations and dozens of businesses had begun pushing hard for paid sick days and most everyone in Vermont thinks its a great idea that is long overdue. In fact, in a statewide poll this Fall over 72% of people in Vermont supported the legislation.  

In the first few weeks of the 2014 legislative session, a majority of House members said they supported the bill and after more hearings where the vast majority of people testifying were supportive, it was passed out of committee by a vote of 6-1. The bill was headed for a quick stop in the Appropriations Committee before coming to a full vote in the House. But instead its been just sitting there and now the legislative leadership is saying its going to die in this committee. What happened? The conservative business lobby, people like the Chamber of Commerce, Retailers Association, and Grocers Association have made killing this bill their number one priority. They have tried to scare local businesses to come out in opposition of the bill. In fact, the majority of businesses who have testified against the bill are already providing paid sick days and didn’t really understand that this bill wouldn’t affect them (since they already had paid time off people could use for sick days). Now some lawmakers say its going to die, but we are not going to let that happen. There are also many courageous legislators who are fighting for this still and will not give up pushing for this. We know that there are a number of legislators who are on the fence about this and we think at the end of the day will do the right thing. But we got to all make our voices heard..

We say it’s time to RAISE UP VERMONT! We are going to give it everything we got to get lawmakers to listen to their constituents. Now is the time we need to raise the standards for people living and working in Vermont. Our families and communities can no longer get by on poverty wages and jobs with no access to fundamental standards like paid sick days.Guaranteeing paid sick days for everyone and raising the minimum wage towards a livable wage are long overdue.

This is a huge women’s issue as the vast majority of people without paid sick days and earning poverty wages are women, including many single mothers. From a public health standpoint, the lack of paid sick days and families struggling on poverty wages has a tremendous impact on the overall have of our entire communities. A growing number of small businesses support having paid sick days and livable wages for the health of our economies and raising the standards for everyone.

Are our representatives really prepared to put the profit interests of a few businesses over the well-being of thousands of workers and their families? We don't believe so   

We are asking everyone to contact their State Representative to ask them to commit to Raise Up Vermont! Support and champion paid sick days bill H.208 and increasing minimum wage to livable wages for all workers. We only have a week to turn this around for paid sick days...

Please take urgent action now:

CALL the Sgt-at-Arms and leave a message for them. Ask them to please commit to supporting paid sick days and livable wages for all workers. Call 800-322-5616 or 802-828-2228

Send a Rose with a Note To Your Legislator to let your legislators know you want them to support paid sick days and Raise Up Vermont! The rose represents women’s fight for dignity, as the vast majority of people without paid sick days and earning poverty wages are women. http://www.workerscenter.org/support-roses-rights-and-paid-sick-days-now

 PARTICIPATE IN A DIGNITY DAY: We are organizing days of action each day next week at the Statehouse.  Click here for a schedule of events.  The next one is...

 -Tuesday, March 18 at noon we will be have a Raise Up Vermont press conference with supporters including Ben and Jerry at the Statehouse.  We’ll be scooping ice cream, singing to our legislators and delivering messages from the people of Vermont to Governor Shumlin’s office.

-Wednesday March 19th Vermont Faith Leaders speak out in support of livable wages and paid sick days. Gather in the Statehouse cafeteria at noon.

-BIG PUBLIC HEARING On Thurs March 20 Gather at 5pm at the Statehouse there will be a public hearing on raising the minimum wage.  JOIN US to send the message loud and clear that we must have wages we can live on and dignity at work. Paid sick days and raising the minimum wage must BOTH be passed this session.

- Friday March 21st Dignity Day at the Statehouse- Join us at any point in the day.  Details to be announced. Let Kate know if you can make it to any of these days (802) 825-8399 kate@workerscenter.org

 WRITE A LETTER to the editor of your local newspaper calling for paid sick days and livable wages. Email darya@workerscenter.org if you can send a letter  

 We are asking everyone to contact their State Representative to ask them to commit to Raise Up Vermont! Support and champion paid sick days bill H.208 and increasing minimum wage to livable wages for all workers. We only have a week to turn this around for paid sick days, please take action now!

 LEARN MORE:

www.workerscenter.org/paidsickdays

http://www.voicesforvtkids.org/paidsickdays/

Voices of the Women’s March For Dignity: Paid Sick Days For All!

"Paid sick days is a women's issue. If you want to stand with women, we say you must champion paid sick days. A vote for paid sick days is a vote for women – and a vote against paid sick days is a vote against women," said Mari Cordes, a registered nurse and president of the VT Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals.

 "Increasing the minimum wage to bring it closer to a livable wage and guaranteeing paid sick days for all are working for the same thing: the right to work and live with dignity. The two things can't be put into competition with one another. If you miss a day’s work on a minimum wage job, then you might miss meals for a week or gas in the tank," said Heather Getty, a case manager and parent born and raised in St. Albans, had several low-wage jobs without paid sick days when she was a young mother. . "It’s going to take a lot more from our elected officials to create a world where we can all live with dignity."

"Frequently the safest time to seek protection from an abuser is during work hours. If a woman lacks paid sick days, she is forced to make a choice between seeking safety and her paycheck. And that's really no choice at all," said Auburn Watersong of the VT Network Against Domestic & Sexual Violence urged elected officials to pass paid sick days to better ensure safety for women experiencing domestic and sexual violence.