115 Workers’ Rights Organizations Call on California Legislature to Expand Emergency Paid Sick Leave for COVID-19 Crisis

Logos of AARP, ALCU, Cal Labor Fed, the California Work & Family Coalition, CELA, Legal AId at Work, SEIU, ERA, UFCW, and California Teamsters

Today, the California Work & Family Coalition, the California Employment Lawyers Association, Legal Aid at Work, United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council, and 111 other organizations join in asking Governor Newsom and the California Legislature to act now to protect California’s families.  In our joint letter we ask for immediate action to expand emergency paid sick days and paid family and medical leave protections to ensure that:

  • All California workers with a COVID-19 diagnosis can take time off from work to recover without losing their job or pay.
  • All California workers ordered to quarantine or self isolate are able to do so without losing their job or pay.
  • All California workers who need to care for a family member who has COVID-19 or must self isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19 are able to do so without losing their job or pay.
  • All California workers who need to care for a child or dependent family member whose normal school or care is unavailable due to COVID-19 are able to do so without losing their job or pay.
  • All California workers are able to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and recover from its side effects without losing their job or pay.

On January 1, 2021, as cases surged, millions of workers across the state lost access to paid sick days. “Many workers who have been exposed to COVID-19 or believe they have COVID-19 now have to choose between staying home, losing their pay, and risking being fired, or going to work and potentially infecting their coworkers and community.  No one should have to make this choice,” said Katherine Wutchiett, Staff Attorney at Legal Aid at Work.  Workers are facing this impossible choice at the same moment that COVID-19 cases are surging across the country and hospitals across the state have reached 0% ICU capacity.

Although we commend the Governor’s commitment to support Californians through this crisis, paid sick leave was not included in the Governor’s proposed budget, released January 8, 2021. While the budget does include funds for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and vaccination, if workers do not have emergency paid sick and family and medical leave, many will be unable to follow public health advice without risking losing pay or being fired.

“Essential workers are risking their lives and the lives of their families whenever they go to work to ensure Californians have enough food to eat during the pandemic,” said Mark Ramos, president, UFCW Local 1428. “As COVID-19 cases continue to rise in California, workers are needing time off after being vaccinated, and our state is potentially facing an even more contagious strain of the virus, workers need additional supplemental paid sick leave in order to stay safe and healthy.”

“We cannot wait for the federal government to take action. California workers and their families are already suffering, and every day, we’re seeing more people getting sick and more people dying. People need to be able to take this time for their own health and for the safety of others.” said Jenya Cassidy, California Work & Family Coalition. “Paid sick leave saves lives.”

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California Work & Family Coalition is a statewide alliance of organizations and people united in working towards a world where all people have the time and resources to care for themselves and each other.

California Employment Lawyers Association is a statewide organization of over 1,300 California attorneys devoted to representing California workers.

Legal Aid at Work is a nonprofit legal services organization that has been assisting workers with low wages for over 100 years through free clinics and helplines, sharing information, litigation, and advocating for policy change.

The United Food and Commercial Workers Western States Council is the regional coordinating body of 11 UFCW local unions representing over 200,000 workers in California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah.

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