Press Release: Call for Legislative Action to Keep Economy and Workers Healthy During COVID-19
Updated: Sep 11
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 17, 2020
Press Conference Speakers Call for Legislative Action to Keep Economy and Workers Healthy During COVID-19 (link to video & short clips of speakers)
New Statewide Coalition Launches Today with a Call to Support Paid Sick Days Legislation by Senator Favola and Delegate Guzman
RICHMOND - A new coalition advocating paid sick days for Virginia workers launched Monday morning, taking its first action in supporting Special Session legislation on Paid Sick Days to slow the spread of COVID-19 and allow the economy to stay open safely.
Virginians for Paid Sick Days is a new state-wide coalition of advocacy groups, non-profits, unions, and faith leaders, advocating for paid sick days for all Virginia workers. Visit our coalition website: vapaidsickdays.org
The organization urged support for legislation, sponsored by Senator Barbara Favola (D, 31st) and Delegate Elizabeth Guzman (D, 31st), which would require all employers to provide 5 paid sick days (40 hours) to full-time workers for regular health matters, annually, and two weeks (80 hours) for COVID-19 quarantine or illness.
Quotes from bill sponsors and some of our supporters:
"Paid sick days keep businesses, workers, patrons, children and our communities safe,” said Senator Barbara Favola (D-31st). “We need to value our health and give workers the dignity of being able to care for themselves when they are sick.”
"This country is in crisis, and if we're serious about stopping the spread of COVID-19, we can't force people to choose between their health and a paycheck,” said Delegate Elizabeth Guzman (D-31st). “Many of our frontline workers who have prepared our food and kept essential businesses running do not have benefits, even though they are at higher risk of contracting the disease. This bill is also an important step toward addressing the pandemic's disproportionate impact on people of color, many of whom work in public-facing service jobs. I am proud to carry this bill, I am appreciative that Speaker Filler-Corn has made it a priority for the House, and I look forward to working with Senator Barbara Favola to get it through the Senate."
“This coalition has come together as a powerful force to advocate for this critical legislation,” said Kim Bobo, Executive Director of the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy. “Virginia needs paid sick days to stop the spread of COVID-19, keep Virginians healthy, and enable our economy to safely reopen and stay open.”
“Sick leave, especially during this health crisis, is another important tool in our toolbox to combat the pandemic,” said Delegate Paul Krizek (D, 44th).
“Home care workers like me need sick days because we get sick too, just like all workers,” said Tony Hedgepeth, a home care worker and SEIU Virginia 512 member. “It’s a terrible feeling to have to put your paycheck over the health and safety of you, your client, and your family,”
"The COVID-19 pandemic has made many things apparent, one of the most important being that the Commonwealth must put workers at the forefront, as they have been carrying Virginia's livelihoods on their backs--risking their lives daily to ensure that our communities are safe,” said Doris Crouse-Mays, President of the Virginia AFL-CIO. “It is not a question in our minds that we give hard-working Virginians the paid sick leave they deserve. Times are unpredictable, and the one consistent, dedicated part of our workforce needs the stability they have provided us for years -- it is time we protect our workers; it is time they have paid sick days."
“VEA members know that without access to paid sick days, many parents are left with no option when their children get sick,” said Dr. James J. Fedderman, President of the Virginia Education Association. “Educators often work with students who have come to school sick because their parent had to make an impossible choice—lose vital wages (and possibly their job) to stay home with their child, or send them to school in spite of the illness. It is well past time to give all working parents the peace of mind of paid sick days. If we want to keep our communities and our schools healthy, the General Assembly must pass paid sick leave for all workers.”
"The General Assembly has a responsibility in this special session to treat every worker as essential by allowing them paid sick leave,” said CASA Virginia Director, Luis Aguilar. “In the middle of a pandemic and after, it is clear that workers are truly essentially to keep the Commonwealth moving ahead and we at CASA support paid sick leave for all workers in Virginia. "
“Parents shouldn't be forced to send sick children to school out of fear of missing income,” said Kenda Sutton-EL, Executive Director of Birth in Color RVA. “This law will help underserved communities to take care of their sick children and still get paid for the workday.”
“Full-time working parents are scrambling to care for their children when COVID-19 cases impact their childcare or school arrangements, or if they are required to stay home with a sick or quarantined child,” said Emily Griffey of Voices for Virginia’s Children. “Paid sick days help parents make the safe, healthy choice for their family without jeopardizing their income.”
The Virginians for Paid Sick Days coalition includes the following founding partners:
ACLU of Virginia
Birth in Color RVA
Care in Action
The Commonwealth Institute for Fiscal Analysis
Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters
Legal Aid Justice Center
Norfolk Federation of Teachers
RISE for Youth
SEIU Virginia 512
United Methodist Women
Virginia Breast Cancer Foundation
Virginia Education Association
Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy
Virginia Poverty Law Center
Voices for Virginia’s Children
FACTS: 104,838 Virginians have tested positive for COVID-19 and 2,370 people have died. In the midst of a worldwide pandemic, more than 1.2 million Virginia workers (a majority of whom are essential workers) still have no paid sick time. Passing a Paid Sick Day standard will give Virginians paid time off to care for themselves or a family member, get tested for COVID-19, and go to the doctor.
A PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY: If this bill does not pass, many of the 1.2 million Virginians who have no paid time off will be forced to go to work sick or send their children to school sick, exacerbating the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses, and making it harder for Virginia's economy to get back on track. Parents without paid sick days are more than two times as likely to send their children to school sick. Studies show that 75 percent of childcare workers, and 47 percent of nursing, psychiatric, and home health aides have no paid sick days. These workers handle our food and care for our children, the sick, and the elderly. Without paid sick days, many Virginians are forced to choose between their job and their family’s health.
ECONOMIC & HEALTH BENEFITS: Especially during the pandemic and tough financial times, a paid sick days policy will save Virginia money and keep our businesses open and safe. Employees who work while sick are 20% less productive, and workers who do not have paid sick days are 3 times as likely to go to the emergency room for treatment instead of the doctor’s office, increasing healthcare costs. A paid sick day law will help businesses keep costs down while allowing our economy to reopen more quickly and safely. Without paid sick days, businesses risk COVID-19 outbreaks if sick workers show up in health care facilities, restaurants, grocery stores, and in other “essential” jobs. Sick workers cost Virginia businesses money and can cause a catastrophic spread of a potentially deadly disease. It is time for Virginia to pass a Paid Sick Days standard.
Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy
Economic Justice Program Manager
Virginia Interfaith Center