Employees in the State of Maryland without paid sick leave do what they must to support themselves and their families, even if it means going to work when it is in everyone’s best interest if they didn’t. Adoption of the Healthy Working Families Act (SB/40/HB385) would ensure that employees get access to reasonable amounts of paid sick leave per year.
Mr. Terry Cavanagh, Chair of the Economic Justice Committee, a sub-group of the Justice and Peace (J&P) Committee of St. Ignatius, has been working diligently during his day job in Annapolis to move the Bill forward. He also introduced the idea of supporting the Bill to the sub-group at St. Ignatius. Ms. Candra Healy, Chair of J&P and others from the group immediately recognized the urgency of the situation where currently up to 700,000 Maryland employees often feel obliged to make a decision to neglect the care of either themselves or their dependents because they do not have any paid sick days at work. This affects those who cannot afford to make ends meet when they lose wages to take care of urgent health needs. The loss of 3.5 days pay is equivalent to losing an entire month’s grocery budget for low-income working families. Hence, the momentum has begun at St. Ignatius in order to get informed and play an active role in shepherding the Bill forward.
The J&P group is learning how illnesses are prolonged or spread in the very environments in which we want our employees functioning at their best, such as in the food service, elder-care, child-care, retail and various other service sectors. When sick employees show up at work, they run the risk of prolonging their illness or infecting others. Sending feverish kids to school for lack of a parent’s ability to forgo a day’s wages or having a frail elderly parent miss a doctor’s appointment for badly needed diabetic or cardiac care just doesn’t make sense either. If there is not adequate financial support in place so that employees can get paid sick time off, it is not only the employee who is potentially negatively affected but others in the community or place of employment.
On March 11th, Melissa Broome, Senior Policy Advocate for the Job Opportunities Task Force (JOTF) spoke to the J&P members of St. Ignatius who have begun to rally in support of the Working Matters campaign here in Maryland. Ms. Broome explained that the Bill is supported by a coalition of 130 faith and secular organizations in the State. Time is of the essence in order to ensure that active measures are taken to in order to have the Bill passed. Voting may be imminent in the next days or weeks. A veto-proof, super-majority of supporters would ensure the Bill’s passing. That would mean that 85 of the 91 House Members would need to vote in favor of the Healthy Families Working Act. Ms. Broome believes that approximately 77 Members are currently in favor of the Bill. She stated that twenty thousand Marylanders have signed a petition in favor of the Bill and that despite having detractors, this is a Bill that appears to have bi-partisan support, except for where the Governor is concerned.
Ms. Broome offered the following action plans for those who would like to volunteer in order to move the Healthy Families Working Act forward:
your Delegates and Senators directly by phone to let them know how important it
is to you that they support House Bill 385/Senate Bill 40.
a brief hand-written note/post-card and send it snail-mail to your Delegates and
Senators. J&P members began sending cards on March 11th. An email can be
3. If you really want to leave a lasting impression, Ms. Broome emphasized that the most impactful action is to make the trip to Annapolis to visit your elected Representatives. A brief face-to-face interaction with a small group (10 or less) of supporters may work wonders in demonstrating that you care about the Healthy Working Families Act and so should they.