Connecticut has something that Minnesota doesn’t have. In fact, Connecticut has something unique among all the fifty states: paid sick leave for service workers.
At 3am Saturday morning, the Connecticut State House of Representatives passed legislation requiring service industry employers to provide workers with paid sick leave. It was a controversial measure. It’s also overdue.
Now, before you start jumping to conclusions, declaring Connecticut the new socialist workers paradise, the service workers paid sick leave bill is also notable for its limitations. First, only hourly service industry workers are covered. Second, the bill only guarantees five yearly hours of paid leave. Third, nationally chartered nonprofit organizations are conspicuously exempted so Connecticut YMCA child care workers, for example, aren’t covered.
But, it’s a good start.
Connecticut’s business lobby, the Connecticut Industry and Business Alliance, predicted a sky-is-falling consequence should the legislation pass. Yet, roughly two hours after the final State House vote, the sun rose in an unaffected sky.
Despite dire warnings, low-wage service jobs will not disappear from the Connecticut landscape. The Harford Jimmy Johns won’t relocate to Providence, Rhode Island. A Granby daycare isn’t going to move to Springfield, Massachusetts. And, that New Haven custodial services company won’t shift operations to New York City.
Here in Minnesota, Jimmy Johns workers, trying to organize their workplace, raised the sick leave issue. Scheduled workers are responsible to find a replacement, even if they’re sick. Consequently, a great deal of food is prepared and sold by workers who maybe should be spending the day in bed.
In his statement hailing the bill’s passage, Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy cited this specific situation. “Why would you want to eat food from a sick restaurant cook? Or have your children taken care of by a sick day care worker? The simple answer is—you wouldn’t.”
Minnesota needs to take this step, guaranteeing service workers minimum sick leave. It builds business and community stability, creating a better, more responsible, more realistic workplace. A healthy workforce is a productive, profitable workforce. Worker protections move Minnesota forward.