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A somewhat odd proposal

Thursday, Jan 30, 2014

* Most everyone was caught by surprise when Gov. Pat Quinn said this during yesterday’s State of the State address

43 percent of all workers in Illinois – more than 2.5 million people – have no right to a single earned sick day. Among our low-wage workers – the problem is even worse: 80 percent of low-wage workers don’t receive any earned sick days.

We need to do something about this. We should provide at least two earned sick days for every worker in Illinois.

We need to help our workers — especially our single parents — avoid that awful choice: dragging themselves from a sick bed to work, or losing a day’s pay or even their job.

More than 70 years ago, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt said, “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

This, too, is about dignity and decency. Let’s get this job done for our working families.

But who is the “we” in the “we should provide at least two earned sick days” line? Is “we” the government? Is “we” the business owners? Is “we” some sort of combination?

What do you make of this?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - MOON - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 2:30 pm:

    Quinn’s frame of mind is government is the answer to all problems

    Thus in my opinion Quinn’s “WE’ is government.

  2. - thechampaignlife - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 2:33 pm:

    We is the government providing the sick days by requiring the business owners to provide them. So, yes to both. Businesses foot the bill and he takes the credit for making it happen.

  3. - Spliff - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 2:34 pm:

    Maybe Bruce Reiner can?

  4. - PolPal56 - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 2:36 pm:

    I want to know - two per year? Month? Lifetime? It’s a weird number.

  5. - OneMan - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 2:51 pm:

    thechampaignlife is correct…

  6. - Liandro - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 2:53 pm:

    What Champaignlife said.

  7. - Jaded - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 2:55 pm:

    If you read the bill, it is 1 hour for every 40 worked. That is 6.5 each year if you work 52 weeks, or 6.25 if you take two weeks vacation (the next government mandate) and those days “shall” be carried forward to the next year. The minimum of 2 must be for part time employees, so under the formula, that would be people working roughly 15 hours a week.

    Lots of problems with the filed bill (employers with 20 or more employees have to comply by next January, 15 or more by January 2016, but what about 15 or fewer?), but on its surface looks like another half-baked Quinn idea.

    As far as “we” goes, when someone would use the word “we” as in “we need to do this” around my dad, his response was always “we who?…have you got a mouse in your pocket?” I don’t think it is a mouse with Quinn, but a giant invisible rabbit. If he is around 5 more years, we might all start to see the rabbit!

  8. - Judgment Day - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:00 pm:

    Is it “per occurrence”? Is Pat going to mandate that every time somebody calls in sick, is it 2 days per occurrence?

    Many businesses have earned sick time policies. How is this going to affect their policies? I can see government mandated sick time, where when people retire, they want to cash in their unused accrued government mandated earned sick time, just like people try to do with unused vacation time.

    Honestly, it’s stuff like this that drives business folks crazy. And there will certainly be paperwork. And a bureaucracy to enforce it. Any limits on size of business? If it’s a mom and pop operation, where there’s 3-4 people at most, will this apply?

    Does this guy ever think anything through?

    The only thing we can hope for was this was vintage Pat Quinn realizing that he had dead air time to fill, and this was the first thing that popped into his head.

    Next time Pat, instead of freelancing, just start reading them recipes.

    I’d love to see Mike Madigan’s face when he realizes that Quinn is reading the assembled audience recipes as part of the “State of the State” address. Priceless.

  9. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:00 pm:

    Pretty small-bore stuff, but I think it’s a mandate for two paid sick days.

  10. - Empty Suit - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:03 pm:

    “Here are Robert Young and Jane Wyatt, with Elinor Donahue, Billy Gray, Lauren Chapin and Pat Quinn in Government Knows Best!

  11. - hisgirlfriday - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:08 pm:

    FWIW, this is not a policy proposal that no one else has suggested or adopted but something liberal groups are advocating for a while. I believe Connecticut and several cities have already passed this.

    A trip to the google also turned up something called the National Partnership for Women and Families that noted the Illinois campaign on this is led by Women Employed and has a website:

    I thought it was interesting how this proposal by Quinn along with the minimum wage focus felt like Quinn was piggybacking on the themes of Obamas SOTU.

  12. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:11 pm:

    Yeah, Moon, empty, two sick days is the road to the Soviets.

  13. - Just The Way It Is One - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:15 pm:

    He means the Government should require it. And I, for one, agree. It’s a considerate proposal, indeed, especially for people with KIDS who get real sick and have no one else to take care of them when such an unfortunate circumstance arises–let alone when the worker her/himSELF who so often is busting their tail off for an ingrate employer who refuses such a widespread, common, decent benefit as an occasional, paid Sick Day off so you can actually GET better and not make your Co-workers, customers, and everyone ELSE around you sick, too (not to mention while the dough helps pay your bills)!!

    I just have to wonder why it has to be so shocking that a Leader with a good heart like Pat Quinn actually proposes something the Government can do for/to benefit you/your family that is considerate and appreciated by your average, working thug for a change (who might even, shock of shocks, be a single working parent who’ll appreciate such a perk even MORE!)–not to mention those co-workers, customers, and anyone else who might not end-up gettin’ sick as a dog themselves from being around that employee?!

  14. - Liandro - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:15 pm:

    Genuine question: during his time Quinn has said a lot about jobs, but most of the proposals he has pushed for (minimum wage hike, mandatory sick day program, tax hikes, etc) put more cost and stress on business, especially small local business. Many have argued that these are all tiny costs that business can easily absorb (not heard that from too many actual business owners…). Even if that were true, can someone please explain to me what, exactly, Quinn has done done to make it easier to stay afloat or to grow? Besides tax cut bills for specific big corps, I mean?

    Illinois has a few programs out there, but as far as I can tell Quinn isn’t pushing for business growth and hiring growth. All his moves are pushing for re-election by putting duct tape around the edges. If I were still a minimum wage worker, I wouldn’t want the Governor working on getting me a sick day or two and maybe a dollar or two more an hour. No, I’d want career opportunities, or promotions at a growing company, or opportunities to start my own business (the path I eventually took). Quinn seems to be the king of offering you peanuts and making it seem like a big deal–and even then he passes the costs on to others.

  15. - Downstate - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:17 pm:

    Our local school is facing a strike by teachers over a variety of issues, including the issue of sick pay.

    We give the teachers 3 sick days per year. Basically, they are still paid if they are ill and unable to come to school.

    But then, via the union demands, we also have to pay the teachers for those sick days, if they aren’t used, at the end of their career.

    Sick days were implemented as a way to compensate teachers if they got sick. But now we have to pay them extra, just because they didn’t use them?

    It may be a small thing, in the overall scheme, but it points to the larger problem of the creeping growth of benefits.

  16. - Bobby Hill - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:17 pm:

    I am with wordslinger. It is the first step in getting 2 days of sick pay. However, that will allow the case to be made for 3 days and then 5 days… Which will allow for the case to be made that if you miss 2-3 days in a row it will only count as 1 of the days…and so on.

  17. - Upon Further Review - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:17 pm:

    Maybe it ought to start with units of government first. Most community college districts in Illinois seldom permit their part-time employees more than one sick day per semester/year.

  18. - Served - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:18 pm:

    One industry this would help the general public is food service. Sick employees of these businesses often don’t get sick days and when they do get sick have to either forfeit pay until they’re well, or suck it up and try and hide it.

  19. - olddog - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:19 pm:

    @ Jaded — 2:55 === If you read the bill, it is 1 hour for every 40 worked. ===

    I’m not familiar with the bill. Who’s sponsoring it?

    To the question: PQ and Squeezy?

  20. - Formerly Known As... - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:23 pm:

    It’s a nice idea and talking point, but it doesn’t paint the full picture and distorts some important facts:

    According to the Department of Labor’s August 2013 report:

    - 77% of all workers receive paid vacation days. 61% receive paid sick days, 60% paid funeral leave and 63% paid jury duty.

    - 91% of full-time workers receive paid vacation days. 75% receive paid sick days, 71% paid funeral leave and 73% paid jury duty.

    In Pat Quinn’s mind, I believe the “we” is government requiring companies both large and small to provide additional paid days away from work.

    I also believe most companies, as a reaction, would then simply convert paid vacation days to paid “flex” days.

    Instead of 10 paid vacation days a year and unlimited unpaid sick days, workers will simply receive 10 paid days off a year for sickness, vacation, jury duty, etc.

    Suddenly, you now have 10 paid sick days. And suddenly, the company no longer has to provide chronically ill employees with paid days specifically for vacation, funerals, jury duty, etc.

    You burned up your 10 paid “flex” days being sick? Tough luck. You used your 10 paid days off in the hospital. Meanwhile, your healthy colleagues used their 10 paid days to enjoy the beach.

  21. - MikeMacD - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:24 pm:

    We, as in

    We, the People of the State of Illinois

  22. - john - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:27 pm:

    Of course all workers should be able to have paid sick leave. Most low wage workers don’t have paid sick leave and we are in contact with low wage workers multiple times a day. These workers are sales clerks, fast food workers, wait staff, hotel staff, janitors, etc. Currently these workers choose between losing a day’s pay or working sick. Most of these workers choose to work sick because they cannot afford to lose out on a day’s pay ($66 if they make minimum wage and work an 8 hour day).

    Unfortunately for those of us who come in contact with those people who work while they are sick, we are exposed to their bacteria or virus. It makes sense for us as a society to have all workers have access to paid sick days because it is better for one person to remain at home and get better rather than expose the rest of us to the disease.

  23. - Robert the Bruce - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:28 pm:

    == 91% of full-time workers receive paid vacation days. 75% receive paid sick days, 71% paid funeral leave and 73% paid jury duty.

    In Pat Quinn’s mind, I believe the “we” is government requiring companies both large and small to provide additional paid days away from work.==
    Maybe he simply wants to mandate that the 75% you quoted goes to 100% for Illinois?

  24. - Anon. - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:30 pm:

    ==Sick days were implemented as a way to compensate teachers if they got sick. But now we have to pay them extra, just because they didn’t use them?==

    Paying employees for not using their sick days must be prohibited! As the governor said, that puts the poor employee in the position of having to make “that awful choice: dragging themselves from a sick bed to work, or losing a day’s pay . . .”

  25. - Jerome Horwitz - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:31 pm:

    The “we” is every employer. He keeps pandering to the voting base. Is there an election coming up or something?

  26. - Living in Machiaville - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:38 pm:

    Jaded is correct. 1 hour earned for every 40 worked. The 2 days is a minimum during a calendar year. Similar proposal here back in 2011. Quinn is a populist liberal who wants business to pay for all his ideas, either directly like this bill or indirectly through taxes, fees and regulators running rough-shod. He’s never run a business so has apparently no concept on how they work. Keep increasing business costs such as this and a minimum wage hike and it has to get paid from somewhere. Ultimately, workers lose with fewer jobs and small businesses give up. The sponsor is Toni Berrios–HB4420.

  27. - 100 Miles West - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:40 pm:

    Downstate, this is a sticky issue among the union employees at my work. Some never take a sick day, many use them all, because they don’t have any value if you don’t use them. Folks that work 10 or 20 years and never take a sick day feel like they get ripped off because they don’t use them.

  28. - Jaded - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:42 pm:

    Two bills filed HB 4420 and SB 2789.

  29. - olddog - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:43 pm:

    @ Living … 3:38 –


  30. - Chavez-respecting Obamist - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:44 pm:

    Oh how awful. Making employers treat their workers with some dignity. What’s he, a socialist?


  31. - Liandro - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:46 pm:

    I will say john and others are fairly correct about service workers coming in despite being sick. if a worker is living paycheck-to-paycheck, skipping one (or more) days isn’t an option unless they are really, really sick. it can be a genuine problem for some places of business.

  32. - olddog - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:47 pm:

    … and Jaded 3:42 —

    Thanks (our posts must have crossed)! I’ll look up the legislation.

  33. - Ahoy! - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:54 pm:

    I believe the intention was “we” meant that the businesses had to provide it. I think this would be a good candidate for a “we” to be a partnership with the government, maybe a match tax credit program? For every 1 sick day provided by the business the state will provide a tax credit to cover the next day up to 6 days? Some businesses could use this and some couldn’t.

  34. - Ghost - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:56 pm:

    The jungle, by Upton Sinclair shows the world where we let business decide how to handle employees.

  35. - Jaded - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 3:59 pm:

    How about this for a proposal?

    Pat Quinn: “If every Illinois business will offer at least 7 sick days to each employee, I (not we) will resign and promise never to run for office again. I think he might get 100% participation.

  36. - Demoralized - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 4:12 pm:

    I think the “we” is a mandate by the government to business. But I don’t have a problem making businesses give workers a couple of paid sick days.

  37. - Jaded - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 4:22 pm:

    By the way, I just read where a similar proposal passed the Washington (state) House of Representatives yesterday. So it is really not just a crazy Quinn idea, it is just another “government knows best idea.”

    As for me, I’m starting to get a headache and thinking about taking tomorrow off.

  38. - Steve Downstate - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 4:23 pm:

    Businesses might be required to let sick workers stay home two days a year without docking their pay or firing them for being sick? Wow. What a radical idea.

    Sounds perfectly reasonable to me. As for those who are picking at the “cost to small businesses,” etc., how much does it cost when Employee John Smith spreads his illness to Employees Jane Cooper and DeAndre Jones? We’re all human; we all get sick. The difference is that I can take a paid sick day and not infect my coworkers and students, while John Smith might feel compelled to go into work. (Heaven forbid he works in food service, where his illness might make scores of customers sick. Where’s the cost-savings in making him feel that he needs to show up to work sick in order to not fall behind in his bills?)

  39. - Henry Clay - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 4:32 pm:

    So we can expect Pat Quinn to help “share the load” for another one of his benevolent ideas with “somebody else’s money”? How about having big-hearted Pat agree to cut his salary in half in order to help those less faotunate? Yeah, I am sure Pat would do that “in a heartbeat”.

    My grandfather always said that “It is always real easy to buy everybody a round of free drinks if you are doing it with somebody else’s money”. Okay Pat- “What’s in YOUR wallet?”

  40. - Anonymous - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 4:35 pm:

    If you don’t think workers should get a couple of paid sick days for their own benefit, then think about your own benefit. The people most likely to not have paid sick days now are the lowest paid service workers. The people cooking and serving your food in restaurants, cleaning the bathrooms where you work or at places you eat, making change at the convenience mart, etc. BLS says the 8 lowest paid jobs are food preparation and serving workers, including fast food, dishwashers, cashiers, hosts and hostesses, amusement park attendants, movie theater ushers, ticket takers, farm workers and personal and home care aides. So don’t make it a social justice question - it’s a public health imperative. It would protect you, your kids and your parents.

  41. - Alejandro - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 5:10 pm:

    The word is…campaigniness.

  42. - downstate commissioner - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 9:22 pm:

    Unused sick days used at the end of a person’s career? No problem- just put a cap on them, up front, say three years total: three days a year=a maximum of 9 days total carryover, from year-to-year, or to end of employment. Can be used for vacation days the same way.
    Yeah, it is “use it or lose it”-so what?

  43. - Arthur Andersen - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 9:30 pm:

    All workers should have some sick time, but not by Government mandate. Find a carrot, not a stick.

  44. - 1776 - Thursday, Jan 30, 14 @ 11:30 pm:

    Wonder what the reaction will be when some company changes their current policy and reduces the days to meet the new minimum threshold?

  45. - RNUG - Friday, Jan 31, 14 @ 1:06 am:

    Now that pension reform is accomplished, Squeezy’s new job is crushing sick time out of IL employers.

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