Source: UFCW Western States Council

Today, the California Labor Federation, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) California and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Western States Council came together to applaud the California Legislature’s passage of AB 152/SB 136 to extend COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave to essential workers until December 31, 2022. COVID-19 Supplemental Paid Sick Leave was previously set to expire on September 30 2022, leaving workers with only the state mandated three paid sick days as the state faces the possibility of fall and winter surges of the highly transmissible virus.

“As California’s workers battle the affordability crisis at the same time the transmission of COVID-19 continues to commonly occur in workplaces, schools, and public spaces, we are grateful to see the Legislature extend this safety net to families when their breadwinners are sidelined by infection,” California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher said. “Our state has understood the value of paid sick leave since California became the first state in the nation to guarantee that protective benefit to every employee, but we’ve especially seen the benefit that extending paid leave has had on families’ own economic security  and the public health since the pandemic began two-and-a-half years ago.”

Without the extension of this critical leave, workers would have no safety net if they are exposed or sick with COVID-19. Essential frontline workers are placed in situations where they have to choose between either going to work while sick, or staying home and risking their income and their job. They are often unable to follow public health advice and quarantine when sick or exposed, keep sick or exposed children home from school, care for sick family, get vaccinated, or recover from vaccine side effects without risking their job or pay.

“Fast food workers, and all workers, should never be forced to choose between their family’s health and a paycheck,” said Laura Pozos, a worker at McDonald’s in Monterey Park and an activist with Fight for 15 and a Union. “I can’t afford any gap in my paychecks – I’ve got to pay the rent and feed my kids. I’m thankful California’s leaders did the right thing by listening to us and extended this leave.”

We know paid sick leave saves lives. One study found that states whose workers newly gained access to paid sick leave through the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) saw four hundred fewer confirmed cases per day, translating into approximately one case prevented for every 1,300 workers per day.

“We’re glad the California Legislature voted to extend this life-saving benefit so workers can remain protected as the weather grows colder and viruses will be spread more easily throughout workplaces,” said Amber Baur, Executive Director, UFCW Western States Council. “Schools are starting back up, so it is critical that workers continue to have access to paid sick leave so they can stay home with their kids when they get sick. Workers should be able to take care of a loved one who is sick without the fear of losing two weeks of pay, or worse, their job. We’re glad our legislative leaders chose to stand with the essential workers who power California’s economy and extend supplemental paid sick leave.”