Washington state has helped lead the way on paid sick leave policy nationally, from introducing one of the very first bills to establish minimum paid leave standards in 2003, to passing paid sick and safe leave ordinances in four cities – that together are home to 1 in 4 jobs statewide, to the January 2016 filing of Initiative 1433, which will raise the state minimum wage in 4 stages to $13.50 in 2020 and assure that every worker in Washington can earn paid sick leave.
Seattle: Whether caring for their children, an elderly parent, partner or themselves, all workers occasionally need access to paid time off to look after their own health and that of their loved ones.
That’s why in 2010, EOI brought together representatives from public health groups, businesses, unions and community organizations to form the Seattle Coalition for a Healthy Workforce. Over 100 local organizations and small businesses endorsed Seattle’s paid sick days proposal. The Seattle Coalition for a Healthy Workforce – whose leadership included the Economic Opportunity Institute, MomsRising, Puget Sound Sage, UFCW 21, Legal Voice, Washington CAN, Puget Sound Association for Retired Americans, M.L. King County Labor Council, and the Washington State Labor Council – mobilized thousands of Seattle workers and voters who called, emailed and turned out in support.
Thanks to a coordinated media strategy, broad coalition, an outpouring of public support, and ordinance sponsor Nick Licata, the Seattle City Council passed a Paid Sick and Safe Days ordinance on September 12th, 2011. When the new law took effect on September 1st, 2012, an estimated 150,000 workers who previously did not earn paid sick days began to accrue them, and thousands more workers earned additional paid sick days and have added flexibility for using them.
SeaTac: SeaTac voters passed Proposition 1 (called the “Good Jobs Initiative”) in November 2013, establishing mandatory paid sick time, a $15 minimum wage, and other labor protections for hotel and transportation industry workers in the city.
Tacoma: In January 2015, Tacoma became the first city that year to pass a Paid Sick and Safe Days ordinance. EOI helped organize Healthy Tacoma – a coalition of businesses, labor, faith and community organizations – nearly six years ago. It took a groundswell of public support and changing the face of the City Council, but that successful effort brings peace of mind, a better quality of life, and a little help juggling work and family to 40,000 workers and their families.
Spokane: In January 2016, Spokane joined the growing ranks of cities and states nationally when the City Council passed paid sick and safe leave 6-1, and overrode the mayor’s veto two weeks later. The Spokane Alliance led a two year campaign that involved hundreds of workers, business owners, and community leaders turning out to talk about how paid sick days would benefit them.
More: Five states (Connecticut, Massachusetts, Oregon, California, Vermont) and over 30 cities nationwide have passed paid sick leave laws, continuing momentum toward statewide and national policies that will protect public health and build family economic security for all.