Allowing all Philadelphians to call in sick

Backed by a community of more than 2,000 donors, Bread & Roses Community Fund supports efforts to make real change in the Philadelphia region. And a really big change is in the works thanks to the efforts of a grantee pushing to make paid sick leave a reality for all Philadelphia workers.

Best known for helping families in Philadelphia manage their finances and build assets through free tax preparation assistance, the Campaign for Working Families (CWF) received a Future Fund grant from Bread & Roses to expand their work to include social change organizing.

Forty-one percent of all Philadelphia workers don’t currently have paid sick leave. This means that illnesses are spread easily by sick workers with no coverage, sick children don’t always get the care they need from parents, and businesses suffer from excessive employee turnover.

That’s why CWF partnered with the Coalition for Healthy Families and Work Places to campaign for a new city law to guarantee paid sick time for all employees. The earned sick days bill asks Philadelphia ‘s elected officials to make a simple, common-sense investment in Philadelphia ‘s families and workers by creating strong, mandatory sick day regulations.

Over several months, CWF sent out 1,582 bright orange postcards to council members and Mayor Nutter delineating the importance of paid sick leave. CWF recruited and trained clients from its free tax assistance programs to testify before City Council about the need for sick time for all. CWF also participated in rallies and concentrated calling campaigns to Mayor Nutter asking him to support the bill.

On June 16 the organizers’ hard work paid off and the bill passed through City Council. Shortly thereafter, however, Mayor Nutter vetoed it.

But by no means will this be the end of this bill. The next step in the campaign will be to organize and rally around city council members to turn their “nay” into a “yea.”
CWF will continue to work to have the vote overridden when council returns from summer recess in September, or it will be reintroduced at the beginning of the new council session in January 2012.

With the help of a Bread & Roses grant designed to encourage new organizing efforts, the Campaign for Working Families has gone very far, very fast. And with your continued support, Bread & Roses will continue to boost activism and community organizing that promote real change.

Members of Campaign for Working Families show their support for the earned sick time bill at a City Council hearing. Photo by: Charles Clarke