Campaign Updates

Coakley boosts sick-leave question

By Wicked Local Fall River // September 29, 2014

FALL RIVER — The stories she would hear would break her heart. And they were not rare, Lorena Gonzalez said.

“I’m a single mom,” Gonzalez said. “The stories that got to me the most were from women who were raising children on their own.

“They were working at jobs without paid sick time. They had to chose between having to leave a 7-year-old who was sick alone at home all day and not being able to pay their bills or maybe losing their job.”

Gonzalez, a labor organizer in Southern California at the time, decided to do something about that and she did. She got elected to the California Legislature and passed a bill requiring employers to provide paid sick days for their employees.

California was the first state in the country to pass such a law. Gonzalez was in Fall River on Saturday to help Massachusetts become the second.

The Coalition for Social Justice held a gathering Saturday in the storefront next to Dunny’s, 13 N. Main St., to advance their campaign to pass referendum question 4 in the November election.

That question would require employers of companies with 11 or more employees to provide paid sick days.

The time would accrue at the rate of one hour for every 30 hours worked, campaign organizers said.

Gonzalez came to Fall River to help the campaign to pass question 4. Attorney General Martha Coakley, the Democratic candidate for governor, did as well.

“Most people with vacations and sick time provided to them don’t realize that there are people who are without it,” Coakley said. “But one in four people in Massachusetts face punishment or a possible loss of job if they take time off from work.

“You don’t want people coming to work when they are sick or worrying about their sick kids.”

Jerry Donovan, who owns the building that hosted Saturday’s rally, said he believes, as a business person, that paid sick time is good for business.

“I’ve been a small-business owner in Fall River for 32 years,” he said. “I started an electrical repair company in 1982 with one truck.

“I now have 20 residential and commercial buildings, plus I still have the electric company. I got here because of my employees. They truly deserve all the benefits available to them.”

Gonzalez said that of the 22 most wealthy countries in the world, the United States is the only one without a law requiring paid sick days.

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Photo Credit: 2014 Martha Coakley