Seattle’s paid sick and safe time ordinance promotes safer families

MobilFrontiers_logo_031711October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the Seattle Office of Labor Standards is highlighting the safe time provisions of Seattle’s Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) law.

You can download new flier about safe time protections to educate your co-workers, family, neighbors, and sister organizations. Available in English or Spanish.

Visit the Office of Labor Standards website or Twitter page to find community resources for:

  • Domestic Violence
  • Sexual Assault
  • Legal Help

Learn more about Seattle’s Paid Sick and Safe Time law at:

Survey: Half Of Food Workers Go To Work Sick Because They Have To

Flu season is here. And when the flu strikes, the luckier victims may call in sick without getting punished or losing pay.

But many American workers, including those who handle our food, aren’t so fortunate.

Fifty-one percent of food workers — who do everything from grow and process food to cook and serve it — said they “always” or “frequently” go to work when they’re sick, according to the results of a survey released Monday. An additional 38 percent said they go to work sick “sometimes.”

That’s a practice that can have serious public health consequences. For instance, as The Salt reported last year, the vast majority of reported cases of norovirus — theleading cause of foodborne disease outbreaks and illnesses across the country — have been linked to infected food industry workers.

But it’s not as if these sick food workers are careless. Nine out of 10 workers polled in the new survey said they feel responsible for the safety and well-being of their customers. Yet about 45 percent said they go to work sick because they “can’t afford to lose pay.” And about 46 percent said they do it because they “don’t want to let co-workers down.”

Full story via National Public Radio »


The More I Learn About Breast Milk, the More Amazed I Am

Photo: Maja via Flickr Creative Commons

Photo: Maja via Flickr Creative Commons

To produce breast milk, mothers melt their own body fat. Are you with me? We literally dissolve parts of ourselves, starting with gluteal-femoral fat, aka our butts, and turn it into liquid to feed our babies.

Before and after giving birth to my daughter 10 months ago, I was inundated with urgent directives from well-meaning, very insistent health practitioners, parenting book authors, mommy bloggers, journalists, and opinionated strangers that “breast is best.” The message was clear: In order to be a good mom, I had to breast-feed.

But breast-feeding is more than being a good mom. And breast milk is much more than food: It’s potent medicine and, simultaneously, a powerful medium of communication between mothers and their babies. It’s astonishing. And it should be—the recipe for mother’s milk is one that female bodies have been developing for 300 million years.

Breast-feeding leads to better overall health outcomes for children, which is why the World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that babies be exclusively breast-fed for a minimum of six months.

Those outcomes, though, are relative: A premature infant in the neonatal intensive-care unit or a baby growing up in a rural African village with a high rate of infectious disease and no access to clean water will benefit significantly more from breast milk over artificial milk, called formula, than a healthy, full-term baby born in a modern Seattle hospital.

We’re also told that breast-feeding leads to babies with higher IQs and lower rates of childhood obesity than their formula-fed counterparts. I understand why people find this appealing, but I don’t plan to raise my daughter to understand intelligence in terms of a single test score, or to measure health and beauty by body mass index.

More compelling to me are the straightforward facts about breast milk: It contains all the vitamins and nutrients a baby needs in the first six months of life (breast-fed babies don’t even need to drink water, milk provides all the necessary hydration), and it has many germ- and disease-fighting substances that help protect a baby from illness. Oh, also: The nutritional and immunological components of breast milk change every day, according to the specific, individual needs of a baby. Yes, that’s right, and I will explain how it works in a minute. Not nearly enough information is provided by doctors, lactation counselors, or the internet about this mind-blowing characteristic of milk.

I made the choice to breast-feed around the same time I was offered a full-time job writing about food. Every morning at 7 a.m., I nurse my daughter. At the office, I pump milk two times a day. When I come home, we nurse, and then at 7 p.m., we nurse before she goes to bed. A few nights a week, I go out to dinner for work.

For six months straight, I woke up every night at 3 a.m. and pumped milk for half an hour in order keep my supply ahead of her demand. (Three a.m. is possibly the darkest, loneliest, and most quiet hour of the night, but I had the reassuring, rhythmic sound of my pale-yellow breast pump to keep me company.) For the last 10 months, there hasn’t been one minute of my life when I wasn’t thinking about, writing about, eating, and/or producing food.

Food points to who we are as animals—human beings with a fundamental need for nourishment, survival—but also to who we are as people: individuals with families, histories, stories, idiosyncrasies. Every day, calories, vitamins, and even clues about the culture I live in flow, drip, leak, and squirt out of my boobs, staining my clothes and making my skin sticky. And every day, I wonder what exactly goes into this miraculous substance.

“People tend to underestimate what milk is,” says Katie Hinde, a biologist and associate professor at the Center for Evolution and Medicine at the School of Human Evolution & Social Change at Arizona State University. She also runs the very funny, highly informative, and deeply nerdy blog Mammals Suck… Milk!

“That’s in part because you go to the store and there’s an entire aisle dedicated to buying milk that is literally a homogenized, standardized food. It leads us to take mother’s milk for granted.”

But right now, researchers like Hinde—a mix of evolutionary biologists, dairy scientists, microbiologists, anthropologists, and food chemists—are examining milk, and the more closely they look, the more complexities they find.

Full story: The Stranger »

New survey yields insights into Seattle employees’ experiences with sick and safe leave law

Space_Needle_cropped[Cross posted from EOI] To gain additional insight into the extent to which lower wage workers in Seattle are aware of the sick leave law and have access to paid sick leave, the Economic Opportunity Institute conducted a survey in partnership with the YWCA Seattle|King|Snohomish in the spring of 2015.

One standout finding: Life doesn’t happen in averages. Just under half (48%) of all respondents used no sick days in the past year — but among those who did (52%) usage varied from 1 to 6 days. This highlights the need for paid sick/safe leave policies that aren’t based on the notion workers will use some “average” number of days in a year.

Other findings:

  • The majority of respondents said their employer provided paid sick leave: 63% were aware that their employer provided paid sick leave, 20% said their employer did not provide paid sick leave, and others were unsure or did not respond to the question.
  • Women respondents were more likely to use sick leave than men, both for themselves and family care. Whites were more likely than Black, Latino, and Asian respondents to use leave.
  • Workers with higher incomes were far more likely to have access to and have used paid sick days, and much less likely to face retaliation, than the lowest income workers. Women were twice as likely as men to have been punished for calling in sick.

Altogether, 83 people who had worked in Seattle during the preceding year participated. The responses to this survey provide insight into how widely Seattle’s sick leave law is being followed, but are not statistically valid for all Seattle workers.

Read the full issue brief here »

How to truly commemorate Women’s Equality Day

Image: London Student Feminists/Wikimedia (License: CC BY-SA 3.0)

Image: London Student Feminists/Wikimedia (License: CC BY-SA 3.0)

We celebrate Women’s Equality Day on August 26 – the 95th anniversary of women in the U.S. winning the right to vote. It was not an easy victory. It took 72 years, with a multitude of activists using many tactics, from the formal launch of the women’s rights movement at Seneca Falls in 1848 to final passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920.

To win the vote, women petitioned and marched, made speeches and wrote volumes of reasoned arguments. Suffragettes were thefirst to ever picket the White House. Activists endured heckling and ridicule, attacks by mobs, police beatings, arrests, hunger strikes and forced feeding in prison.

Opponents argued women were physically and intellectually incapable of the reasoned thought required for voting, that allowing them to vote would destroy the family and threaten lucrative businesses – especially related to alcohol, that there were higher priorities demanding the attention of lawmakers.

Winning the right to vote was a landmark achievement, but it was never the only goal of women activists and their male allies. The 1848 Seneca Falls convention – attended by approximately 300 women and men, white and black, many of them active Abolitionists – also demanded  the overthrow of all laws that kept women inferior to men, and “the securing to woman an equal participation with men in the various trades, professions and commerce.” Women fought for equality in marriage, access to birth control, and the right to unionize. Three years after women’s suffrage finally passed, Alice Paul convinced a friend in Congress to introduce the Equal Rights Amendment to achieve these broader goals.

Ninety-five years after winning the vote, the ERA has yet to be ratified. Women turn out in greater numbers than men each election day and earn the majority of college and graduate degrees, but we’re a long way from the full equality our foremothers envisioned. Only 4.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs are women – that’s 23 out of 500.Women hold just 19% of seats in Congress, 24% of state legislative seats nationally (33% in Washington), and 17% of big-city mayor posts.

In virtually every occupation, women make less than men. Pay secrecy policies allow employers to get away with paying different wages for the same work. Men more often get rewarded with the plum assignments and promotions, while strong women are considered “difficult” and sidelined. Mothers and women of colorface especially high wage gaps, with single moms and their children experience shocking rates of poverty and near poverty.

Lack of paid leave is a women’s issue, too. Too many women and men don’t get sick leave to take care of their own health or a sick child or aging parent, and the U.S. remains the only advanced country without paid maternity leave. A recent investigative reportfound that nearly one in four women return to work within two weeks of giving birth despite the devastating impact on their own health and their new babies – because they can’t afford not to.

We aren’t going to get the rest of the way to equality by politely waiting around for a convenient time when it won’t interfere with corporate profits or the priorities of male leaders.

This year, despite three special sessions, Washington’s legislature couldn’t find the time to pass commonsense bills that would move women closer to economic parity – while giving a needed boost to the health and security of families and helping local main street businesses thrive. The 2015 legislature passed fewer bills than anyodd-year legislature going back more than 30 years. The Senatecancelled committee meetings to avoid voting on the Equal Pay Opportunity Act, Sick and Safe Leave, or a $12 minimum wage – which all sailed through the House. The House dropped consideration of Family and Medical Leave Insurance – which would provide paid leave for new parents and workers caring for a seriously ill family member or with their own serious illness or injury – as soon as it passed out of committee and the Senate ignored it completely.

Equal pay, job opportunities, and access to paid leave to care for our children and families’ health should not be partisan issues. We can be grateful to those brave women and men who defied convention and risked bodily harm to win the rights women enjoy today. Will our daughters and granddaughters have any new rights to thank us for – or are we going to pass our problems on to them?

Original: South Seattle Emerald »

Carly Fiorina Has A Laughable, Dangerous Solution To The Paid Leave Problem

You can’t leave this stuff up to CEOs.

"Carly fiorina speaking" by Michael Vadon - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons -

“Carly fiorina speaking” by Michael Vadon – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Commons. (details)

New mothers in the United States are often forced to go back to work just a few weeks after having babies. That happens because our federal government, unlike that of any other country in the developed world, offers no provision for paid maternity leave.

But no worries, everyone! Carly Fiorina has a solution. If the former Hewlett-Packard CEO is elected president, she’ll simply fix our economy, making it “so strong that employers are forced to compete for workers by offering better salaries, better leave policies, more time off, and good benefits,” she wrote on Thursday in a blog post for The Huffington Post.

This is a laughable and dangerous way to think about paid leave. One that’s sure to fail women in the United States, particularly those who aren’t lucky enough to work professional jobs at companies enlightened or profitable or large enough to offer paid maternity leave.

We’ve left paid leave up to businesses for too long, and what have they done? Right now only12 percent of employees at privately owned companies have access to paid leave, according to the Department of Labor.

Allowing this to keep happening would do more harm to the economy than Fiorina seems to understand. And paying for federal mandated leave is far cheaper than she seems to realize — even though her home state of California has been pulling it off for more than a decade.

But paid leave isn’t simply a matter of economics; it’s a public health issue that we all have an interest in.

Full story: Huffington Post »

Pittsburgh Residents Will Now Be Guaranteed A Paid Day Off When They Get Sick

[Original via ThinkProgress] On Monday, the Pittsburgh city council passed a bill requiring employers to offer workers paid time off for illness or to care for a sick loved one.

The bill passed seven to one after moving quickly through the council. It was introduced on July 6, which meant it got passed in less than a month.

The new law will require businesses with 15 employees or more to give workers at least five paid sick days and three for those with fewer, although unionized construction workers, seasonal employees, independent contractors, and government employees will be exempt. The leave can also be used to care for a spouse, child, parent, domestic partner, grandparent, or sibling. Currently, about 40 percent of the city’s private sector workers, including 77 percent of service workers, don’t have access to paid sick leave.

“In a huge victory for Pittsburgh workers, Pittsburgh city council has now joined Philadelphia in taking action to give an extremely important benefit to workers by passing councilman Corey O’Connor’s paid sick leave bill,” said PA Working Families director Kati Sipp in an emailed statement. “This legislation will give more than 49,000 Pittsburgh workers paid sick leave.”

Pittsburgh is now the second city in Pennsylvania and the 20th city nationwide. Four states have also passed paid sick leave requirements.

Click to embiggen

Click to embiggen

There is still no national requirement that employers offer their workers paid time of for illness, however, leaving about 40 percent of private sector workers without any paid days, including about 70 percent of low-income Americans. All other developed countries, on the other hand, have already passed such laws. President Obama and Democratic lawmakers have pushed to pass a national bill, but it hasn’t moved forward.

Critics argue that it will hurt businesses and jobs to institute paid sick leave requirements, but evidence from places with laws on the books points in the opposite direction. Employers inConnecticut, Jersey City, and Washington, D.C. say it hasn’t be costly or difficult to comply with the requirements, while some have even experienced benefits such as lower turnover and higher productivity. The vast majority of employers now support the laws. Meanwhile, job growth was actually stronger after laws took effect in Connecticut, San Francisco, and Seattle.