New Data Indicates Up to 106 Million Private Sector Workers Excluded from Emergency Paid Leave Despite a Supermajority of Support for the Policy
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and U.S. Reps. Rosa DeLauro and Ayanna Pressley were joined by workers who have been excluded from emergency paid leave today in calling for Congress to expand paid leave in the next relief package, pass the PAID Leave Act and for President Trump to sign it into law.
The lawmakers and workers, who were brought together for a news conference by the Paid Leave for All campaign, also shared new data showing that an estimated 68 to 106 million private sector workers will be excluded from paid leave protections under the Families First Act that was passed into law. That includes nearly 9 million health care workers and emergency responders on the front lines nationwide.
“In the midst of a public health crisis, paid sick and family leave is more than common sense — it’s smart economic and public health policy,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). “When people can afford to stay home, they are less likely to become infected or to infect others. Working families are trusting us to protect them during this pandemic and it’s vital that full paid sick days and family and medical leave are provided in our next response package. The American people are demanding that their leaders take action and provide paid leave, and it’s time for the president and Congress to take action.”
“As part of our response to the current pandemic and its economic fallout, the Congress passed—for the first time ever—a national standard for paid sick days. It was a huge first step,” said Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (Conn-03). “However, revisions from the administration and corporate friendly guidance from the Department of Labor have left out millions of workers from these protections, including front-line health care workers, first responders, millions of grocery store workers, and individuals working at businesses of more than 500 employees. There are the real stories behind the millions of workers being left out of paid leave protections—including Mario Franco from Connecticut—and their voices are an inspiration. Our country cannot afford paid leave just for some. Our country needs, and is demanding, paid leave for all.”
“From our front-line healthcare workers, to our service workers, to janitorial and sanitation workers, millions of people across our country are putting themselves and their loved ones at risk because they do not have access to paid leave and sick days,” said Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (Mass-07). “We simply cannot afford to leave any community out in our federal response to this crisis. Our destinies and our freedoms are tied. Paid leave benefits are not a luxury, they are a necessity and fundamental to protecting public health. With the fourth stimulus package, we have a powerful opportunity to repair this injustice and ensure that all communities have the resources and supports needed to keep their families safe and healthy.”
“The need for care is universal and the COVID-19 crisis is magnifying just how much harm the federal government’s failure to enact paid leave has caused us,” said Dawn Huckelbridge, Director of the Paid Leave for All campaign. “Paid leave is a foundational public health and economic security issue. While support for this policy has always been high, in the months since the pandemic we have seen a more than 400% increase in people searching for information on paid leave. It’s time for Congress to pass and President Trump to sign this critical piece of legislation.”
New data was released from the Center for American Progress highlighting those who are not being covered under the Families First Act that Congress passed in March. The analysis shows that:
“Every day, I worry, this is the day I might expose those in my care to COVID-19 because I don’t have paid sick leave,” said Joyce Barnes, a home care worker for three decades and a member of SEIU Virginia 512 who lives in Sandston, Va. “I have two clients in their 60s who at a high risk to exposure – one is recovering from a debilitating stroke and the other is a double amputee with diabetes. Poverty wages and a lack of basic benefits make it hard for home care workers across the country like me. We must go to work no matter how sick we get. It’s an awful choice: go to work sick or get evicted because you can’t make rent. The Trump administration’s decision to cut home care workers from the emergency sick leave provisions puts millions of us, and those we care for at risk of contracting COVID-19.”
“I work seven days a week at two jobs; both considered essential,” said Kris Garcia of Denver who is a member of Colorado 9to5 and works at two Fortune 500 companies. “I have a compromised immune system and my work at the airport and package delivery warehouse put me at risk of exposure to COVID-19. What does it say about us as a country that we don’t take care of those who take care of everyone else? We need to make sure everyone is protected – not just during this outbreak, but permanently.”
“When we were fired from Applebee’s, we weren’t provided paid sick days or any form of emergency assistance. Just a 50% discount on to-go orders – excluding baby-back ribs,” said Elizabeth Holt, a waitress at a San Antonio Applebee’s for four years whose husband was a part-time dishwasher at the same restaurant. “It’s devastating to know that we have been with this company for so long, and we get nothing, not even paid sick days, from management during a public health and economic crisis. We are not the only families who have lost work, are struggling to put food on the table, and have rent and utility bills due. We need paid sick leave and income relief.”
“Until a few weeks ago, I was the nightshift manager at the McDonald’s at the Darien Northbound rest stop on I-95. I worked there for 26 years and I have seen a lot of injustice at McDonald’s,” said Mario Franco, a Connecticut resident who was fired by McDonald’s at the beginning of the pandemic. “My entire night shift is now laid off. Many are single mothers. They all need help, and with this crisis, they need it more than ever. For over 20 years, I worked at McDonald’s with my wife. On a hot summer day, four years ago, she passed out in a back room at the store and hit her head. A few days later, she died in a hospital. McDonald’s only paid for her headstone. That’s it. We have no sick days. We have no family leave. We have very little vacation. The health insurance is very expensive and very bad. I ask for everyone’s support, for my, my coworkers, and everyone who still must visit the rest stops.”
Recent polling shows growing bipartisan support for the issue of paid leave. In the last month, 87% of voters, including 91% of Democrats and 86% of Republicans, said all workers should have access to emergency paid sick, family and medical leave.
The PAID Leave Act would provide all workers and independent contractors the following in 2020 and 2021. It provides:
Businesses would not be dependent on tax credits. Instead, they would submit documentation to the Department of Labor demonstrating they paid out sick leave in order to receive reimbursements. The legislation would “fully and quickly reimburse all employers” for these two years.
Starting in 2022, the PAID Leave Act would permanently allow employees and independent contractors to accrue seven paid sick days. It would also establish a self-sustaining family and medical leave insurance program for all workers as laid out in the FAMILY Act for up to 12 weeks.
The Paid Leave for All campaign is a growing collaborative of organizations fighting for paid family and medical leave for all working people.
For more information on the Paid Leave for All campaign, visit https://paidleaveforall.org/.