Progressive Reform Caucus Endorses Paid Sick Leave Ordinance For Chicago Workers

April 12, 2016

Chicago City Council Progressive Reform Caucus

The Chicago City Council Progressive Reform Caucus endorsed an ordinance to be introduced Wednesday, sponsored by Progressive Caucus member Ald. Toni Foulkes (16) along with Aldermen Joe Moreno (1) and Ameya Pawar (47), that will guarantee paid sick days off to some 400,000 Chicago workers beginning in 2017.

“No one wants a sick food server bringing you your dinner, or a sick cook preparing your meal, or a sick childcare provider working with your child,” Progressive Caucus Chair Ald. Scott Waguespack (32) said, “But every day, Chicagoans who ought to stay home come to work because they have no protection. This is a serious public health issue which affects the lowest-paid workers the most.”

The Progressive Caucus has worked with the Paid Sick Time Coalition since 2013 to craft the legislation, and sponsored an earlier version that was introduced in the previous term.

“This is personal to me,” said sponsor Ald. Toni Foulkes, recalling a time during her 13 years as a supermarket cake decorator when she had to report to work “sick as a dog, running a fever, and worrying about handling customers’ food.”

“My own experience with job insecurity, and having no right to take a day or two with the flu, taught me about this problem which persists all these years later,” she said.

The proposed law would cover some 400,000 Chicago private-sector employees who currently have no right to paid sick leave.

Ample evidence suggests that workers who stay on the job while sick are less productive, and the risk of contagion actually may cost the employer more. Workers who have experienced domestic violence (estimated at 1 in 5 women) or rape (1 in 4 women) require recovery time. Such incidents affect thousands of Chicagoans, but are not currently recognized as reasons for sick time off.  “This is a matter of compassion as well as common sense,” Ald. Foulkes said.

The City of Chicago’s Working Families Task Force estimates that the cost to employers of adding paid sick time would amount to no more than 1.5 percent. More than 20 major cities, including San Francisco, Jersey City, Seattle, New York City and Portland, now require paid-sick leave policy within their jurisdictions.

“Today, while the economy is showing signs of improvement, let’s take advantage of the positive growth to make this change and make Chicago a leader in the protection of workers and the public health,” said Ald. Foulkes.

Ald. Foulkes and other members of the Progressive Caucus will stand with the Paid Sick Time coalition on Wednesday at 9am at City Hall’s 2nd Floor Lobby for a press conference on the ordinance.