Friday, May 01, 2009

Worried about Swine Flu? Here's something you can do.

The United States needs to allow all working people to earn paid sick days to ensure our economic security, and protect public health.

Sign the Petition Today

Dear Friends of the Heart,

The news over the weekend was scary -- outbreaks of a potentially pandemic flu virus, called the "swine flu" are being reported all over the world, including in the U.S. As of now there have been 64 confirmed cases of swine flu in the U.S., with the first fatal U.S. case reported this morning from Texas.1 White House officials monitoring the situation are recommending that: If you're sick, stay home, get treatment, go see a doctor.2

This is easier said than done. In the U.S. today, nearly half of workers aren't allowed to earn paid sick days (i.e. they don't have a single paid sick day to take when illness strikes in order to keep our communities healthy and not spread illness). And more than half of the workforce does not have or cannot use paid sick days to care for sick children. The numbers are even worse in industries where people need paid sick days the most: 92% of waiters and waitresses, and 79% of childcare workers aren't allowed to earn any paid sick days3.

How do the experts expect people to stay home when they're sick, if they don't have any paid sick days?

Sign the petition today! The United States needs to allow all working people to earn paid sick days to ensure our economic security, and protect public health.

In this economic downturn, folks need to work, sometimes whether they're sick or not. I talked to a coffee shop employee today who told me, "I go to work sick sometimes; I need the hours so I can pay my rent!" We've all been there. When people go to work sick, it puts us all at risk. The recent swine flu outbreak is a powerful reminder that we need paid sick days for public health.

In New York, where there is a small outbreak at a school among students who recently traveled to Mexico, health officials told the Wall Street Journal that one way to reduce the spread of the disease is to "stay home until 48 hours after the symptoms have passed to avoid spreading the disease,"4 Clearly, folks need paid sick days to do the right thing and stay home to care for themselves and their children when they show these symptoms, so more people don't get sick.

Sign the petition today, and pass it on to your friends and family!
Everyone should be able to earn paid sick days to ensure our health and economic security.

Thank you,

--Katie, Mary, Kristin, Sarah, Anita and the Team

P.S. See the CDC Website for more information about the swine flu

1. Read the NY Times compilation of information about the swine flu here:

2. Quoted in:

3. Institute for Women's Policy Research analysis of the March 2006
National Compensation Survey, the November 2005 through October 2006 Job
Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, and Highlights of Women's Earnings
in 2005 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Report 995).

4. Quoted in:

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