Early Saturday morning, the California State Assembly passed AB 1522, a bill by Lorena Gonzalez’s (D-San Diego). It states all California workers have the right to earn and use three paid sick days a year, either for themselves or their dependents.
“The single mom who is just struggling to make ends meet and has to really think, do you pick up your kid from school and stay home with your child when they are sick and take them to the doctor, and risk losing your job or a day’s pay,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez said currently there are 6.5 million Californians, mostly in the retail and restaurant industries that face this fear every day. AB 1522 will allow every Californian to acquire one hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. Each worker must work at least 90 hours before using those hours.
For a year, the bill faced major opposition. The biggest opponent was the California Chamber of Commerce, which listed the bill as a “Job Killer Bill,” that would potentially stunt job growth in the State.
The Chamber still maintains their opposition of the bill. However, after much negotiation, they took the bill off their “Job Killer” list on Friday afternoon.
“We sat down with big business, little business, and many chambers through this state, labor, Governor’s office, and it was just a lot of meetings and collaborating to get to a bill that while not perfect, is going to provide the basics, and that is the most expansive sick leave policy for workers in the nation,” Gonzalez said.
Proponents said this type of bill has proven effective in Connecticut at the State level, and San Francisco at the city level. They said this has led to a healthier workforce and has provided workers with a huge medical cost benefit. By staying home, the individual would not spread their illness. And instead of going to the Emergency Room, workers would visit their primary care physicians.
Just before 4 a.m. Saturday, Sacramento lawmakers voted 52-25 to pass the bill along to Governor Jerry Brown. Since the passage in the State Assembly, the Governor has since released this statement:
“Tonight, the Legislature took historic action to help hardworking Californians. This bill guarantees that millions of workers – from Eureka to San Diego – won’t lose their jobs or pay just because they get sick.”
Gonzalez said the passage of the bill could not have come at a better time.
“For a woman who was a labor organizer and a labor leader, and came to this legislature, because I said ‘I wanted to change people’s lives and in particular, the workplace, in particular, women,’ there is no better weekend to be celebrating paid sick days than Labor Day,” Gonzalez said.
Once signed by the Governor, this law will be implemented in July, 1, 2015. It will be regulated by the Labor Commissioner.