Santa Rosa City Council to Vote on Emergency Sick Leave
Written by Steve Mencher
We provide local news updates on The North Bay Report Tuesday-Friday at 6:45, 8:45 a.m., and 5:30 p.m. on KRCB radio 91 and 90.9. Here's our North Bay Report episode for Tuesday, July 7. Subscribe to The North Bay Report podcast to listen on the go.
The Santa Rosa City Council is expected to decide on July 7 whether to require employers in the city to provide 14 days of sick leave for employees during the current health emergency. Currently, the state mandates three sick days for most workplaces.
In a recent Op-Ed advocating the idea, Marty Bennett, research and policy associate for UNITE HERE, Local 2850, says a local ordinance could fill the significant gaps in current federal legislation, which protects some workers but leaves many without protection.
Bennett wrote: "Essential frontline service workers experience high public contact levels. People working in-home care, health care, child care, janitorial services, pharmacies, transit, grocery stores, food service, and warehouses risk exposure to COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. They can pass those infections to other workers, their families, customers, and patients. Sadly, most essential services workers don’t earn a living wage and cannot afford to stay home without pay."
A similar proposal was brought to the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors. At that time, Peter Rumble, chief executive officer of the Santa Rosa Metro Chamber of Commerce, told the Santa Rosa Press Democrat that "business leaders were blindsided by the proposal and that it has generated significant concern.
"'Nobody reached out to the business community to see what kind of impact it would have,' Rumble said. Business owners don’t want workers coming to work sick, he said, but many small businesses are enduring unprecedented hits to their bottom line. 'To put an additional cost directly onto the employer is extremely problematic, despite being absolutely aligned. It’s going to be really interesting to see what comes back.'"
News Director Steve Mencher spoke about the proposal with Maddy Hirshfield, political director of the North Bay Labor Council.
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