New Jersey may be in the news for bad politics, but on paid sick days, at least, they’re leading the way – a second city there just unanimously passed paid sick days. Newark’s win, the result of work by a great network including the Time to Care Coalition that led the fight for the state’s paid family leave, will mean 38,000 additional workers in NJ can earn paid sick days.
In a move to protect Newark’s public health and bolster its economy the City Council adopted an ordinance that would allow all private-sector workers to earn paid sick days. The legislation passed unanimously Tuesday morning, and if signed by Mayor Luis Quintana the ordinance will make Newark the 2nd city in New Jersey and the 7th city in the nation to enact an earned sick days law.
“Today is a tremendous victory for 38,000 workers who will never again have to choose between their paycheck and their health or the health of their family,” said Analilia Mejia, executive director of the New Jersey Working Families Alliance on the day of passage. “By extending the right to earn sick days to every single worker in the city, Newark’s earned sick days law will be one of the most comprehensive in the nation. Lawmakers in Trenton and around the state should take notice.”
Looking forward, advocates pointed to a statewide bill introduced this spring by Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt and Senator Loretta Weinberg that would cover all of New Jersey’s 1.5 million workers who currently lack paid sick days. The bill is being championed by the New Jersey Time to Care Coalition.
“While today’s vote is a huge victory for working families, there are still over a million New Jerseyans who lack the basic security that earned sick days provide,” said Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, Executive Director of New Jersey Citizen and spokesperson for the Time to Care Coalition. “In the coming year we’re going to build on the momentum from our victories in Jersey City and Newark and make New Jersey a leader in this nationwide fight for fairer, healthier, and more prosperous communities.”
The legislation comes just months after Jersey City passed the first earned sick days law in New Jersey. Five other cities – Washington, D.C.; San Francisco; Seattle; New York City; and Portland, Oregon – have taken action to help boost the economy by making sure workers can hang on to critical income when ill. Washington D.C. recently expanded their existing paid sick days law to cover all workers, and New York is planning to do the same. In New York City paid sick days legislation was a powerful determinant in the outcome of this month’s Democratic primary for mayor, as voters were less likely to vote for City Council Speaker Christine Quinn after she blocked action on paid sick days for three years. Campaigns for statewide sick days laws are moving forward in Vermont, Massachusetts, Oregon and elsewhere.