Wisconsin Court Upholds Milwaukee Paid Sick Leave Law

More than two years after Milwaukee voters overwhelmingly passed a paid sick leave city ordinance, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals today upheld the law and lifted an injunction an employer's group was granted in June 2009.

But Republican state legislators are backing a bill that would prevent Wisconsin cities and towns from establishing their own paid sick leave laws. Dana Schultz, lead organizer for 9to5, the National Association of Working Women, says:

Milwaukeeans have made their decision on paid sick days, and now the courts have upheld their vote. The State Legislature should not be trying to rob voters in Milwaukee and cities across the state of their basic right to local decision-making on sick days or any other laws....It's time for the State Legislature to stop its attacks on hard-working families and get to work on policies that will help create jobs and grow our economy.

In November 2008 voters approved by 70 percent the ordinance that requires large businesses to provide employees with up to nine sick days a year and small businesses up to five sick days. But in June 2009, employers were granted an injunction in legal battle that wound its way to the state Supreme Court and then back to the Court of Appeals.

New research on paid sick day laws in other cities shows significant benefits for workers and minimal impact on businesses. A study last month of San Francisco's paid sick days law shows business concerns about job loss were unfounded, with six in seven employers saying that paid sick days have had no negative effect on profitability and two-thirds of employers surveyed supporting the law. Other studies have shown that employees are healthier and more productive when they have access to paid sick days.

Nationwide, more than 44 million private-sector workers in the United States-­42 percent of the private-sector workforce­-don't have paid sick days they can use to recover from a common illness like the flu.

Recent surveys show three-quarters of Americans say paid sick leave should be a "basic workers' right" and Congress should pass legislation that guarantees workers paid sick leave. More than 160 countries provide paid sick leave, but not the United States.

AFL-CIO Now Blog, Thurs Mar 24, 2011
Byline: Mike Hall

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