Letter to the editor: We must support paid sick days

We must support paid sick days

In the upcoming legislative session, paid sick days will again be discussed. It is important that we all seriously consider this issue, and pass our thoughts along to local legislators. I know that some have criticized this legislation in the past, feeling that people will just "take advantage" of their employers. I would like to share a story that may influence your personal ability to support paid sick days and feel good about doing so.

I am involved with the homeless shelters here in town. One day a number of months ago I came upon a young mother on the front porch of a shelter who was in tears. I knew that she had, over the past few months, been making a concerted effort to be more self-sufficient so she could obtain an apartment for her family. I admired her strength and determination in doing so. She had secured a job — no small accomplishment in the current economic climate — of which she was very proud. She had so many reasons to be proud of the progress she had made in a few short months.

I asked her what had happened. I was most distressed to think that after all she had overcome, something had put her into this emotional state. She told me that one of her children was sick, and could not go to daycare. She had called into her work and been told that she need not ever come in again if she didn't come in as scheduled. I could not even imagine the agony, being a mom myself, of having to lose a job because of a sick child. And in her case it was worse — it represented so much more.

It represented just another obstacle to breaking her cycle of homelessness, one that was totally beyond her control.

If Vermont had paid sick days legislation not one of us would have to face a situation like this. With healthier happier families, employers would see happier, more productive employees.

Lets each do the right thing and support paid sick days legislation. Please urge your Senators Brian Campion and Dick Sears to support Vermont workers and vote yes on H.187, the Healthy Workplaces Bill.

Currently, almost 100,000 workers in Vermont do not receive a single paid sick day a year. Lets each do the right thing and support paid sick days legislation.

— Mary Gerisch Bennington


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