Vol. 3, No. 12
October  2016
Paid Sick Leave
Two stars from the CCC documentary,
"Taking a Closer Look at Childcare."

Two Queens women, Celina Alvarez and Rocío Loyola were interviewed by a New York Times  reporter and told him of having to report to their jobs in the restaurant industry while sick and threatened with dismissal if they did not. One actually was fired after a hospitalization but was rehired after begging her boss to take her back. That interview took place in October 2012, before the New York City Council passed legislation in early 2014 requiring that businesses with 5 or more employees provide their employees with at least 5 paid sick days per year.

Here in Illinois, on October 5, 2016, the Cook County Board passed the "Earned Sick Leave" Ordinance,mandating that eligible workers in Cook County be able to earn up to one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. Based on a 40-hour work week, the ordinance would allow qualifying employees to accrue 5 paid sick days in each 12 month period worked. The approval of the ordinance follows by four months the passage of a similar one by the Chicago City Council. Both measures take effect on July 1, 2017. While 5 paid sick days per year may seem like a miserly number to people who can accrue one paid sick day per month, they do represent an important improvement for the more than 900,000 workers in Cook County (420,00 in the Cook County suburbs) whose employers do not provide such a benefit.

Workers who cannot accrue paid sick time through their employers are forced to make difficult decisions as to whether to go to work sick, send a sick child to school or child care, risk losing pay, or even their jobs. According to an article published in 2016 by the Economic Policy Institute based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 27% of the lowest paid workers in private industry (the bottom 10%) have access to paid sick days, in contrast to 87% of the highest wage workers in private industry (the highest 10%). If a lower wage worker without paid benefit time does take a day or two off to recover from an illness, or tend to a sick family member, the resulting loss in pay can cause serious financial repercussions for the entire family. For example, if a worker who earns $12 per hour and works 8 hours per day takes even one day off without pay, he or she will lose $96 in gross wages for that week. The missing earnings can cause a family to fall behind in rent or utilities, hamper its ability to buy all the food the family needs, or force the family to choose between groceries and needed medication. Conversely, if such a worker does have access to paid sick days, he or she can take time off with the peace of mind that missing work will not create additional financial hardship when bills come due.

Both the Cook County and City of Chicago ordinances also cover victims of domestic violence who may need to use paid sick time in order to seek shelter or legal services. Every year, the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) conducts a one-day census of services provided by domestic violence programs around the country. In its 2015 census, the NNEDV found that 44,007 adults sought emergency shelter, transitional housing, or other services such as legal assistance, and economic support. Although the census does not show how many of those adults were employed, it is at least likely that a large number of those who were would have benefitted by having been able to use paid sick time during that period of hardship.

Paid sick time, when it goes into effect in Chicago and Cook County, is likely to make lives better for those who currently lack it by relieving them of the burden of making nearly impossible choices.

In early 2015, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut) introduced the Healthy Families Act, which would establish a national right to earn paid sick days. It has not passed Congress.

Handle with Care
Handle With Care
, Tracy Walsh's play based on the 35 videotaped interviews conducted by the Committee on Child Care of WWHP, was performed again on September 28th at the Third Unitarian Church in Austin. Playwright Tracy Walsh from Lookingglass Theatre had made a few tweaks, and the play was even better than the last time we'd seen it.

About 70 people attended the play. Andrew White, Connectivity and Engagement Director of Lookingglass, conducted an extensive Q & A. Panelists Betty Buckman, founder of Little Leaders of Tomorrow, and John Lloyd, a parent whose child attends Little Leaders, each spoke of parents' need to better educate their children, while Dr. Lilliam Perez from the Ounce of Prevention described the kind of hurdles parents must overcome in order to seek help and support. Their contributions prompted responses from attendees about resources available to parents and the work of Family Home Child Care Providers who work not only with the children who come to their homes but also with the children's families.

CCC was also able to show its documentary "Taking a Closer Look at Child Care" to a portion of the audience.

Top left: Betty Harris introducing program at Third Unitarian Church (TUC); Center: Audience on first floor of TUC listen to Betty Harris; Right: Chris Bakker helping Betty Harris at lectern

Center left: Actors Wendy Mateo (seated left) and Ericka Ratcliff (seated right) performing "Handle With Care" and rapidly alternating between being mothers, childcare providers, and babies or little children.

Bottom left: Andy White moderating panel with Lilliam Perez, John Lloyd, and Betty Buckman; Center: Enjoying TUC's food; Right: Talking and eating


A Glimpse into the Life and Legacy of Ethel Percy Andrus

MT Cozzola's play told the story of three teachers: Ethel Percy Andrus, Hannah, the retired teacher Ethel found living in a chicken coop, and "Tania," an out-of-work teacher, plus a grocer who worried about Hannah and asked Ethel to check on her. A panel continued Ethel's story and issues with Lily Liu, former AARP archivist, speaking about Ethel's legacy, Arleen Crandall, executive director of the Retired Teachers Association of Chicago, speaking about Illinois teachers' pensions today, and Ann Marie Cunningham of the Jane Addams Senior Caucus speaking about the importance of political activism to respond to the poverty and racism that some Chicago elderly face.

Ethel's grandniece, Barbara Service, and her grandnephew, Lincoln Andrus Service attended, along with Lincoln's wife, Diane Bekker, and their daughter Margot. Greeting the audience from AARP was Rosanna Márquez, Illinois President of AARP.

Top left: Rosanna Márquez, Illinois President of AARP and friend; Center: "Hannah" speaks to "Ethel" as "Tania" looks on; Right: Panel speakers with moderator, Helen Ramirez-Odell

Center left: MT Cozzola, playwright with Brigid Duffy; Center: Lily Liu, former AARP archivist; Jackie Kirley, President WWHP; Ruby Haughton-Pitts, member, AARP Illinois Executive Council Right: Helen Ramirez-Odell with WWHP poster

Bottom left: Alma Washington, Connie Foster, Brigid Duffy,  Paul Odell; Right: (Back row) Lily Liu, Rosanna Márquez, Marsha Katz, WWHP Treasurer, Lincoln Andrus Service (Front row) Barbara Service, Diane Bekker, Margot Service

Like us on Facebook