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."
Tine Reese, founder of the non profit Bloom Spokane and member of Fuse Washington, speaks of the benefits of sick leave to families and our economy. "The U.S. is the only industrialized country in the world without a national paid sick days policy, estimated to cost the U.S. economy $180 billion annually."
Jennifer Knickerbocker, Human Resources professional, explains how the sick leave policy will save Spokane businesses money in employee recruitment. "This ordinance will create greater job satisfaction in Spokane, which will in turn reduce turnover in jobs, saving employers thousands on recruitment and training costs."
Sophie Clark, medical student and member of Health Equity Circle, talks about her support for paid sick leave from both a personal and professional perspective. “Though we wore facemasks to prevent passing our germs on to others, the bugs made the rounds of the staff and the patients all the same...I have seen patients in the ER who have delayed medical care because they could not go to the clinic during work hours...children who are alone in the hospital because their parents cannot afford the time off of work to be with them."
Lannie Cubley MacAndrea, retired community college teacher and member of Unitarian Universalist Church of Spokane, talks about her pupils’ experiences juggling work and school and having no access to sick and family leave. “When a student needed to go to court in a domestic violence case, I helped her schedule the appointment during class time rather than work time because she had no way to make up lost wages. When one misstep could cancel a chance for a self-sufficient life, it is the determined person who works sick, the courageous person who tells a stranger what life is really like and asks for help.”
Joe Spring, graduate student of occupational therapy and member of Health Equity Circle, talks about what happens when the healthcare worker charged with caring for patients does not have paid sick leave. “While working in a rehabilitation facility I witnessed many coworkers coming to work sick and “sucking it up”. John Wayne would be proud of them however he never worked in public health nor was he responsible for caring for your grandmother or children ... When healthcare workers are the possible vectors of the very illnesses we seek to prevent, this is wrong."
Gloria Bercier, homecare worker and member of SEIU Local 775, talks about what happened to her when she fractured her foot and had no sick pay. “I had no choice but to return to work with an injured foot. Ironically, this actually caused inadequate healing of my foot...I just think that people that work really hard like I do shouldn’t have to utilize or even think about using government assistance programs.”
Susie Young, semi-retired homecare worker and member of SEIU Local 775, talks about how times have changed and the hardships that today’s families and homecare workers face. “My friends never complain about the sacrifices they make. But a few hours of lost wages could mean gas in the car, or a small bill or even food on the table – or even ice cream cones for your grandchildren.... The homecare workers that I know are so compassionate about the job they do. All day long they care for other people. But there are times when people just need a little helping hand – like paid sick time.”