Key Senate Dem pushes case for paid sick leave

Key Senate Dem pushes case for paid sick leave
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A key Senate Democrat said supporters of a paid sick leave bill are increasing the pressure on Republicans to take up the measure.

Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDemocrats turn on Al Franken VA slashes program that helps homeless veterans obtain housing: report The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE (Wash.), the No. 4 Democrat in the Senate, said that roughly two in five private sector workers –some 43 million in all – don't have paid sick leave. That means, Murray said, that too many workers are currently forced to decide between going to work while sick or with a sick child at home, or missing a much-needed paycheck.

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"No one should have to sacrifice a day's pay or their job altogether to take care of themselves or their sick child or daughter," Murray said on a conference call with supporters of the measure. 

Murray added that the legislation she introduced, which would force companies with at least 15 employees to offer seven days of paid sick leave a year, now has close to 30 sponsors. 

More than 60 senators – including 15 Republicans – also backed the idea in a nonbinding budget vote this spring. But with Congress facing a busy fall with potential showdowns over Iran and funding the government and highway programs, Murray suggested supporters still had work to do to win over the Republicans in charge of the Senate floor.

If the Senate doesn't act, Murray said, "our Republican colleagues should have to explain why workers have to choose." 

Business groups have long opposed mandatory paid sick leave, arguing that it could hundreds of thousands of jobs by adding new expenses to companies.

But Murray and outside supporters, like the National Partnership for Women and Families and YWCA USA, have said the sort of economic security provided by paid sick leave is especially helpful to low-income and minority workers.

Roughly half of Latino workers, and more than two in five black workers, don't have access to paid sick leave, supporters said Tuesday.