Wisconsin Gov. Walker has just signed a bill prohibiting local governments from passing ordinances guaranteeing workers' paid sick and family leave.
Eventhough Milwaukee voters overwhelmingly approved a city ordinance by referendum two years ago, Walker and the WMC came up with a bill stating statewide employee leave provisions trump local ordinances - prohibiting cities, villages, towns and counties from adopting their own.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett opposed the bill, saying it will drive jobs out of the city.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, 61% of all private-sector workers have some paid sick leave, but only 21% of those earning wages in the bottom 10% of the wage scale have sick leave. By contrast, 81% of the highest-paid workers have some paid sick leave.
This vastly unequal access to paid sick leave poses a number of public health problems. Many of the lowest-paid jobs that are least likely to provide sick leave are service jobs in the retail, health care, and food service sectors, where workers regularly come in close contact with the general public.
In addition, since low-paid workers are generally less able to afford to take time off without pay, they are more likely to go to work sick. At a time of high unemployment and diminished job security, workers may feel particularly pressured to show up on the job even if they should be tending to an illness.
Walker's law is bad for business and public health.
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