Analyzing the History of the Paid Sick Time Movement in a New Fordham Urban Law Journal Article

Our new article in the most recent volume of the Fordham Urban Law Journal describes how the nationwide fight for paid sick time has developed at the state and local levels.
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A Better Balance is proud to have published an article in the most recent volume of the Fordham Urban Law Journal. The article, titled How Local Paid Sick Time Innovations—and the COVID-19 Pandemic—Have Shaped a Growing Paid Leave Movement Across the United States, is co-authored by ABB Co-President Sherry Leiwant, ABB Vice President Jared Make, and ABB Staff Attorney Elena Rodriguez Anderson. The Fordham Urban Law Journal publishes articles addressing policy issues facing urban areas, and is the fourth most cited student-edited specialty journal of more than 400 specialty journals in the country. This volume of the journal is focused on the theme of local governments serving as innovators and leaders in the realm of labor and employment law.

A Better Balance’s article describes how the nationwide fight for paid sick time has developed first at the local and then at the state level, especially given the dearth of action in this area on the federal level. As a leader of the paid sick time movement from its earliest years, ABB is able to document the ways in which worker-led advocacy coalitions have successfully pushed local and state and governments to ensure workers have access to paid sick time to care for themselves and their families without losing their financial security—as well as how these pioneering local laws paved the way for statewide protections. 

The article begins with the successful 2007 ballot initiative in San Francisco to pass a paid sick time law and charts the growing movement that followed, ultimately leading to passage of paid sick time laws in dozens of localities, 15 states, and Washington, D.C. Against the backdrop of this progress, however, the article also examines the passage of preemption laws in many states, which prevent localities from guaranteeing paid sick time. The article concludes with a discussion and analysis of the temporary Families First Coronavirus Act, the only time that the U.S. has had a federal law providing workers with paid sick time. Throughout, the article lifts up the ongoing efforts by advocates in cities and states to expand protections for workers, creating more generous standards for workers and filling gaps left by state and federal law. It concludes with a call for Congress to pass the Healthy Families Act, the federal paid sick time law currently introduced in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.

We are grateful to the Fordham Urban Law Journal for the opportunity to publish this article, and for lifting up the critical issue of paid sick time for workers. A Better Balance is proud of our years of intensive work, with partners on the ground in dozens of states, to pass and implement paid sick time laws that cover approximately 60 million workers in the U.S. But our work remains. In addition to continued efforts to pass the federal Healthy Families Act, ABB is continuing to draft bills and provide technical assistance to campaigns around the country—including efforts to pass a paid sick time law in Delaware, expand paid sick time protections in Connecticut, and advance ballot initiatives this November in Alaska, Nebraska, and Missouri.

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