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Groups push for lawmakers to pass bills to give all workers paid sick days

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The coalition pushing state lawmakers to give all workers paid sick days is growing. Groups backing bills introduced in Lansing last month held press conferences in Detroit, Flint and Kalamazoo Monday.

Danielle Atkinson, who directs Mothering Justice, an advocacy group for working moms, was in Grand Rapids. If passed, she says the bills would help more than workers.

“99% of restaurant employees don’t have access to one paid sick day and what that really translates into is restaurant workers going to work sick and getting everyone else sick and it becomes a public health issue,” Atkinson said.

An estimated 1.5 million workers in the private sector in Michigan don’t have paid sick days. That was about 45% of workers in the private sector in 2010.

Lawmakers have introduced similar bills at least two other times, but they’ve never gotten enough support to get to the governor’s desk.

“We understand the political realities but we don’t think it’s completely out of the question that a populous issue can move in this legislature,” Atkinson said. “We are excited about the support, the bi-partisan support, that it’s getting now because it’s a common sense issue and we’re really hoping that it’ll go somewhere now.”

But the package of bills has only one Republican co-sponsor. It’s got 28 Democrats.

“The more we hear people say ‘paid sick days, paid sick days, paid sick days’ the more lawmakers are going to pay attention,” she said.

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