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October, 2009. A history of the Spokane Alliance's green jobs efforts and the launching of SustainableWorks, a green jobs non-profit.
Jenny Vercruyssen, high school student, recognizes from personal experience how hard it is to choose between taking care of children and needing to bring home pay. "My mom is a perfect example of the reason we need earned sick and safe leave to support families"
Lisa Fairbanks-Rossi, substitute teacher and member of Fuse Washington, describes the horrible feeling of being forced to work sick. "On the best of days, substitute teaching at full health capacity with ample coffee on board, particularly in lower, high-energy grade levels like kindergarten can be nightmarish. Add to that the dizzy heavy head, runny nose and profuse sweating and it feels like one of those bad school playground dreams. But REAL."
Ed Reese, founder of Sixth Man Marketing and member of Fuse Washington, has deployed an "extreme" sick leave policy, encouraging employees to stay home even if they are slightly sick as to not infect others. "But as careful as we are to mitigate illness by staying home when sick, we put ourselves (and our business) at risk by coming into contact with people who are required (or feel undue pressure) to come to work sick. Whether they’re food service workers, day care providers, or anyone else in Spokane that we come in contact with that comes to work sick, it puts our business at risk."
Tara Lee, a pediatric nurse and member of Fuse Washington, and her daughter Jadyn talk about how scary it can be for a sick child to be in a hospital without their parents, due to lack of paid sick leave. "When I was 9 I spent 4 nights in the hospital with pneumonia. It was really scary and I was so glad that my mom and dad both had paid sick leave so that one of them could be with me in the hospital the whole time. My mom has told me about really little kids who have to be alone in the hospital and that makes me sad. It must be very scary for them when their mom or dad have to leave them alone to go to work."
Nikki Lockwood, mother, community volunteer, and member of Fuse Washington, counters the argument that certain jobs are "just entry-level" and don't warrant sick leave benefits. "Spokane has recently been noticed for its high quality restaurant offerings and certainly the restaurant workers are part of that. People are raising families with these types of jobs...[another man I know] has worked for a car repair chain for 25 years and does not get earned sick leave...There are a diversity of reasons people hold these jobs and they should be valued for the role they play in our economy."