NEWS RELEASE: Legislators, Workers, & Faith Leaders Speak Out on Urgent Need for Paid Sick Time

For Immediate Release
February 2, 2021
Contact: Trisha Harms, TakeAction Minnesota, trisha@takeactionminnesota.org
Josh Keller, SEIU, jkeller@seiumn.org

Legislators, Workers, & Faith Leaders Speak Out on Urgent Need for Paid Sick Time 

House Labor Committee Hears Earned Sick and Safe Time Bill Today at 3 p.m. 

St. Paul, MN–For the first time since the pandemic hit, state lawmakers will consider a bill to expand paid sick days statewide. 

Earned Sick and Safe Time (H.F.7) gets its first committee hearing at the Minnesota House of Representatives today, February 2, at 3 p.m, in the Labor, Industry, Veterans and Military Affairs Finance and Policy Committee.  

Minnesota’s Earned Sick and Safe Time bill would allow workers to accrue up to 48 hours of paid sick time per year. Paid sick time means being able to comfort a sick child, go to the doctor, take time to address domestic abuse, get a COVID test, or seek safety without having to worry about losing pay or getting fired. Minneapolis, St. Paul, and Duluth already have paid sick day ordinances in place.

“It’s been hard during COVID as we are afraid of getting the virus or bringing it home. Over 750 members of our union have had to miss work because of COVID, and four have died from COVID,” said Eva Lopez, a janitor in Richfield and member Vice President of SEIU Local 26. “Right now, if people feel sick many have to either go to work sick or not get paid. This is wrong and no person should have to make that choice.

If everyone had sick time we’d be more comfortable making sure we are healthy and stay home. But even after COVID, we should all have sick time so we can care for ourselves and our families.”

“As a food service and retail worker with no paid sick time available, I’ve seen many coworkers go to work sick because they couldn’t sustain the loss of income. I’ve even faced discipline for taking too many sick days. No one should have to choose between taking care of their health and losing income, or worse, losing their job,” said TakeAction Minnesota member Devin Helmick, a retail worker in Lester Prairie. “There’s no reason anyone should have to go to work sick – especially in a pandemic. Passing the Earned Sick and Safe Time bill is the right thing to do for Minnesota workers, and to protect the public’s health.”

“Recently, my daughter became infected with COVID-19. Instead of worrying about losing her job as she recovered, my daughter was able to use paid sick time to nurse herself back to health through a very scary time. Having access to Earned Sick and Safe Time gave my daughter peace of mind. For me, as a father and grandfather, it was so comforting to know she could focus on her family,” said Ed Stuart, a leader with ISAIAH from St. Paul. “We should be a state that’s building a caring, family-friendly economy. Minnesotans should not  struggle to work with dignity. It’s time for our state legislators to act with the courage needed to do what is right for all Minnesotans. It’s time for us to pass Earned Sick and Safe Time.” 

“We all know that everyone gets sick, and the pandemic is one more reminder that when people get sick, they should be able to stay home not just for their own health or that of a loved one, but for the health of everyone around them,” said Representative Liz Olson and chief author of the Earned Sick and Safe Time bill. “Minnesotans care for one another, and we want to live in a state where our families can be healthy and safe regardless of the color of your skin, your income, or where you work. By ensuring Minnesotans across the state have the tools they need to be healthy and meet their highest family responsibilities, we can get through this pandemic as a stronger, healthier state.” 

“With the pandemic, the urgency to pass Earned Sick and Safe Time has only grown. Every working person deserves paid time off to care for themselves or a loved one,” said Senator Sandy Pappas, the bill’s champion in the Minnesota Senate. “We know that our health is interconnected and paid sick time is a tool that works. St. Paul, Minneapolis, Duluth and thirteen states including D.C. have paid sick time laws on the books. It’s time to pass this statewide.”


TakeAction Minnesota is a statewide, multiracial grassroots organization advancing justice and equity through organizing, policy, and campaigns. Offices are located in St. Paul, Duluth, and St. Cloud.

SEIU represents 60,000 workers across Minnesota who provide care and support for your family in your homes, hospitals, public schools, nursing homes, hotels, universities and the Twin Cities’ largest public and private buildings, and who make and distribute products used by Minnesotans every day. 

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