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California Governor Jerry Brown announces emergency drought legislation at the CalO ES State Operations Center in Mather, California, February 19, 2014. Brown announced legislation on Wednesday to provide $687 million in emergency drought relief to the parched state, where half a million acres of cropland could go idle in a record production loss. Brown, joined at a press conference by Democratic legislative leaders, said the plan would give money for food and housing to workers impacted by the drought as well as fund projects to conserve, capture and manage water in parched communities. REUTERS/Max Whittaker (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS ENVIRONMENT) - RTX195IX
Will a paid sick leave bill reach California Gov. Jerry Brown's desk?
California may soon become the second state to pass a paid sick leave law. The bill now headed for a state Senate vote would guarantee workers three days of paid sick leave a year—an extremely low number, but an improvement from the zero days workers are now guaranteed under the law.
A new study from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research suggests that 44 percent of workers in California don’t have access to even one paid sick day a year. As you might expect, the availability of sick days correlates strongly with education level. If you have a cushy job or work for a generous hi-tech company, then your boss will probably pay you even for days when you call in sick. But if you’re in a low-paying profession? Then you probably don’t.
That translates into just 19 percent of people in "food preparation and serving related" occupations having sick days—and since restaurant workers are disproportionately likely to live in near-poverty, few of them can afford to lose a day's pay to stay home sick. Yet despite the obvious public health implications of having sick restaurant workers sneezing all over the food they prepare and serve, the restaurant industry opposes paid sick leave.

If a second American state joins Connecticut and the cities that have passed sick leave in recent years, it would be a tremendous step forward for workers and yet another sign that this issue isn't going away. But the United States will still lag behind most of the rest of the world, and as long as Republicans control a house of Congress or are able to filibuster, we won't be able to catch up.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Aug 28, 2014 at 08:39 AM PDT.

Also republished by Los Angeles Kossacks, California politics, San Diego Kossacks, and Daily Kos.

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