On September 23, 2011, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn signed the Seattle Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance into law following an 8 to 1 vote by the City Council. The campaign by the Seattle Coalition for a Healthy Workforce generated wide earned media coverage and more e-mails and phone calls to Council members than any issue in memory. Public hearings and forums were packed. Workers, small business owners, and school nurses who rarely have a say in policymaking became key spokespeople, making a compelling case that paid sick days standards are necessary to protect public health and rebuild family economic security.

Photo: Jen Nance

The Washington Family Leave Coalition, coordinated by the Economic Opportunity Institute, helped launch the Seattle campaign in the aftermath of the H1N1 epidemic. For over a decade, the statewide Coalition has brought together seniors, women, labor unions, health professionals, children’s advocates, faith communities, low income workers, employers, and policy makers.

The Coalition has successfully advocated for state-wide legislation that allows workers with paid leave to use it to care for sick family members, and that lays the foundation for a family and medical leave insurance program for all workers. We’re working together to make it easier for parents to raise healthy children and care for aging parents; for workers to care for themselves or family members during serious illnesses; and to establish modern workplace standards that improve productivity and worker health.

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