Hundreds March for Paid Sick Days

By Kristen Tripodi

Published 03/08 2014 04:54PM

Updated 03/09 2014 07:37PM

MONTPELIER, Vt. - In Montpelier hundreds of people marched to raise awareness for what they are calling 'dignity in the workplace.'  The group wants every worker -part- time or temporary -to have paid sick days.
The event coincided with International Women's Day because organizers say women make up the majority of those who don't have access to paid time off.

Heather Getty says in the past she's worked part-time jobs without benefits to make ends meet.

“I've often had to go to work sick because I couldn't afford to take the time off,” said Heather Getty, a Therapeutic Case Manager.

So Getty along with at least 150 others gathered in Montpelier to march for paid sick days and a livable wage for all Vermont workers.

“I believe both things should happen they are not mutually exclusive. And it’s important that families are able to care for themselves, care for their families, and pay their bills,” said Getty.

The Vermont Workers Center coordinated the event and organizers say right now more than 60,000 workers in Vermont have no paid sick days and more than 90,000 earn less than a livable wage.
And the vast majority of those people are women.

“It’s incredibly difficult to make the decision between staying home when you really should when you are sick, not well. And losing a day of pay when you are already living paycheck to paycheck which is generally the workers who are most impacted by the situation that don't have paid sick days to begin with,” said Sarah Weintraub, a supporter of PTO for every worker.

Supporters are pushing legislators to pass House Bill 208. It would ensure that all employees earn a minimum number of paid hours annually so they can take paid time off from work when they are sick or when their family is sick.

“So this bill is for everybody,” said Weintraub.

And organizers say they aren't giving up on the bill any time soon.

 “We're not patient, but we are persistent,” said Getty.

Right now the bill is in a House Committee awaiting discussion.

It faces opposition from small business owners. They say having to pay sick days will cut into their bottom line.

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