01:00 AM EST on Saturday, January 30, 2010

American workers want paid sick days

By LINDA MERIC

WASHINGTON

Last year, in our tough economy, many of us asked for necessities and basics as holiday gifts. Among the gifts that would mean the most to families is the passage of the Healthy Families Act, introduced by the late Sen. Edward Kennedy (D.-Mass.), along with Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D.-Conn.), last May.

It wasn’t the first time that federal legislation guaranteeing workers a minimum number of paid sick days had been introduced. Previous efforts were unsuccessful. But now, the Healthy Families Act has 145 congressional co-sponsors and has been endorsed by the Obama administration.

So health professionals, civil-rights groups, labor unions, educators, faith organizations, elected officials and women’s groups like 9to5 are optimistic about its passage.

There’s something wrong when workers have to choose between keeping a job and taking care of themselves or their families when someone gets sick. There’s something wrong when going to a routine medical appointment or other preventative care could result in a pink slip. There’s something wrong when a domestic-violence survivor seeking help or services is punished with the loss of her job.

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