All around us, people are coming down with the flu – and the Centers for Disease Control warn that it could be the worst flu season in ten years. And to make matters worse, our national workplace policies are helping to spread the flu. Despite the CDC recommending people “stay home and avoid contact with other people,” most workers don’t have that option, as the United States is the only developed country that doesn’t guaranteed paid sick days to its workers.
As a result, 40% of private sector workers and 80% of low-income workers don’t get any paid sick days. In the food industry, where the chances of the flu spreading are highest, 79% of workers say they receive no paid sick leave. Our lack of protections for workers is directly responsible for more flu illnesses around the nation. As a 2009 study in the American Journal of Public Health found, there were as many as 5 million additional cases of the H1N1 flu in 2009, due to a lack of paid sick time.
Giving workers what they have earned – which is paid sick days – isn’t about workers rights. It’s about national security, and saving millions of Americans from needlessly contracting the flu when they dine out or go to the grocery store. Unfortunately, the billionaire class running Corporate America has squeezed every bit of profit they can from their workers – denying them union representation, healthcare, and paid vacations and sick leave.
This is insanity – and we should protest with our wallets and pocketbooks. Before dining out, call the restaurant and ask if they offer paid sick days to their employees. If not, then eat there at your own risk.