Last month, we told you the story of Mark Rinehart, a Georgia teacher who wasn’t allowed to use sick days donated by his colleagues to see his ill quadruple amputee wife.
Last night, local news station KTVU reported about another tragic case that is emblematic of American sick leave policies. 44-year-old San Francisco firefighter Janette Neves Rivera was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. She has spent months in the hospital, but her alloted sick leave will soon be used up.
Several of her coworkers stepped up to offer her their sick days. KTVU reports that as many as half of the fire department’s staff — 700 employees — offered their leave time to Rivera, a stunning act of compassion and solidarity.
But the city of San Francisco is not allowing her to take the leave days, saying her condition is not “life-threatening.” That means she will have to return to work in a week — which also requires leaving the side of her 3 year-old daughter — just days before she is scheduled to undergo a mastectomy. “I’m scared. I’m a strong, tough woman, and this does scare me,” she told the local news. Click here to watch KTVU video about Rivera’s plight.
This would not be in issue in most of the rest of the world. 144 countries, including even poor countries like Haiti and Nigeria, offer guaranteed sick leave, and paid dozens provide sick leave for up to six months or longer.
But there is hope for progressives who think the United States shouldn’t be playing catch-up with countries like Haiti and Nigeria. Last year, Connecticut became the first state in the country to guarantee paid sick leave to some of its workers. And pressure is mounting on New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn to allow a vote on a paid sick leave policy for her city. Join our campaign to ask Quinn to hold a vote by using the link at the top right.