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September 30th, 2014

Paid Sick Leave Should be a Basic Right

 

Editor:

 

Last Thursday, I was offended by opposition testimony to paid sick leave. As a young adult, I worked hard to pay my bills and raise my son, struggling with growing debt. For most of my life, I worked in the food service industry. If I got sick, a shift was lost or I could trade shifts with a co-worker. Shift trades were my responsibility and hard to come by.

 

This put me in a cycle of poverty for nearly two decades. I couldn’t make ends meet and put my groceries on credit cards. In 2005, I filed for bankruptcy. I was 34 years old and buried in debt from student loans and credit cards. Bankruptcy was really my only way out, yet it carries a lot of shame and indignity, on top of the resignation of knowing you’ll likely never have a shot for things like a house in the future.

 

Do I think that if all businesses operated on a level playing field by providing guaranteed paid sick leave, then it would’ve cured my economic disparity? No, but it certainly would have helped. Diving deeper into debt because of a few lost hours is ridiculous. I really have a hard time understanding why this basic right is even in dispute. Whether you have paid sick leave or not, I urge all citizens of conscience to reach out now, because we all are affected by the lack of paid sick leave, and we’ve waited long enough for work with dignity.

 

 

Heather Pipino

 

Barre

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