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Lack of Paid Sick Days and Large Numbers of Uninsured Increase Risks of Spreading the Coronavirus

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/02/29/lack-paid-sick-days-and-large-numbers-uninsured-increase-risks-spreading

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My dog is a total pain in the ass, really, but I love her so. What “conservative” mindset would tell me to cost-effectively heal her? These fucktards would send my heart so far from my reach that my dear dear dog would be long gone. I’ll just Molly Ivins them. That will fix 'em good!

There are also jobs that demand you show up regardless of health. I was a professional cook my whole career. I almost always had to show up or face firing. In fact I did lose a job because of an exceedingly nasty flu in ‘79. My 5+ year job vanished because I was too sick to even move. A friend watched me for several days in fact. So even though I was almost on my deathbed I was let go. Tell that to the idiots on TV that can’t comprehend what it’s like to have precarious job status. Healthcare? Ha! I had one job with healthcare insurance kept for 13 years. That’s over a 35 year career. I’m guessing things haven’t changed all that much since then. Paid sick days? Again, that same one job. miss work, miss some pay. Yet the billionaires can’t even comprehend what it’s like to be exploited the way we workers are/were. Flu is spread in restaurants because workers go in and work sick. This new virus just helps bring this nastiness out in the open more than normal. Besides the regular ol’ flu has killed about 30,000 people here in America already this season. Is this mentioned? No! One C. virus death? Close the fucking borders.

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Have to agree hippy. There’s other factors about this topic not brought up in the story. I had paid sick leave when I was a city firefighter, the only problem was you had to spend money to see a doctor and get a doctor’s excuse to be paid, not a great trade-off on our small salary. Many came to work sick because of it.
Living in the East South Central part of the Bureau of Labor’s chart in the story, I have to wonder where they got their data, no way do 62% of Mississippians have paid sick days. Not even close.

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I was recently “put out to pasture” by a multi-national IT firm that gave 2 weeks of personal days. Those included sick, vacation, family emergency, kids stuck home because of weather, doctors appointments… everything.

So you had to bet against yourself… (sort of like insurance…) if you wanted to take a vacation. And if you woke up sick, and called in (we went to client sites, not an office) we were encouraged, because of this, to go infect others or cancel the vacation plans that had already been paid for.

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Know the feeling. California passed a paid sick time bill, three days. It’s not much, but a first step.

There needs to be a national law plus one tied to a formal CDC declaration. If a national emergency is declared, everyone gets two weeks, full stop. Businesses can rotate employees, but ill people stay home. Nobody wins when everyone is sick.

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I’ve heard about that type of situation from others as well. When I was a ff., we did get separate vacation time, but here’s the kicker, you had to pick your time off a year in advance. On top of that it was done by seniority, with only so many allowed off at any one time, meaning if you had less than 5 yrs. in, forget about vacation time when your kids were out of school, or any holidays. Sucked to be a “new boy”.
Sorry to here about your “put out to pasture” issue.

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Agree. Even during a bad flu season, this should be accepted as a public service.

The first employees rotated out (for safety of course) will be upper management… “C” level will be at home cowering with their families.

I am not sure anyone would notice they weren’t there.

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Our laws get curlicued with elaborate decision trees like this, or else we could simplify things by treating people decently, in general, all the time… Nah, that couldn’t work. What would we do with the unemployed lawyers, not to mention paperwork copiers and mass-grave engineers?

I don’t think it’s that complicated. An emergency declaration is made, everyone gets two weeks off. Healthy employees can wait until they are sick to use it, sick employees can stay home. Of course, I’m all onboard with guaranteed sick leave for everyone too. We don’t need pandemic conditions for sick people to stay home.

To your point, sure it’d be nice if employers recognized it is not good to expose their workforce to bad bugs, but many, maybe most, don’t. Hence the need for a national sick time law.

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I appreciate your practical attitude. There’s a serious undertone to my flippancy, however: So long as our efforts are focused on repairing a sinking ship, we’re still going down. I’ve had it with this class of people making decisions for other people. We don’t have meaningful freedom without the most basic personal autonomy. We are wage slaves, for the most part. That’s not going to keep working much longer.

This situation was a long time coming. Since the dark days of Reagan and the war on organized labor, all manner of employee benefits, from company sponsored pensions to health insurance, to vacation and sick time, have been eroded, and in many cases and companies, eliminated. People forget that only about half the jobs created in the USA in the twenty first century even offer health insurance and vacation time. Dental, eye care, pension, even 401k matches of any kind have practically disappeared. And sick days, especially paid ones, don’t exist for most jobs. It’s the GIG economy, or as I like to call it, the Kelly girl economy, where everyone is a temp or contract worker now. No benefits, no set hours, no job security.
A system like this is ripe for the spread of a pathogen. Sick people go to work. Sick kids go to school. Nobody can afford to go to the doctor even if they have sick time. And the most telling thing is that the oligarchy, the ownership class, doesn’t care. They are now culling the herd. Now that we can’t purchase the crappy products and services we produce, we are less than worthless to them.

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I’m glad I’m retired and don’t get out much. That being said, I’m glad this is February. If the virus was raging closer to the election, I can just see Trump using it as an excuse to postpone the election and declare martial law.

Another thing that needs to go away is the punitive attendance policies in some school districts, where you need a doctor’s note for your child’s absence to be excused-or you run afoul of truancy law. Years ago, my pediatrician told me he hated that-kids that weren’t really sick enough to need a doctor would have to come in and be exposed to children who really were sick enough.

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Well, consider guaranteed sick leave just one of many ideas. There’s also making it a bargaining proposal in labor negotiations, which would happen much more easily if bills like HR 2474, which passed the House and is now in the Senate, (ht tps://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-bill/2474) became law.

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One minor, positive thing is that states like California have guaranteed sick time. More states should do it. It’s a step in the right direction. This is why voting democratic down ballot matters, especially in 2020, a redistricting year. Changes like that happen down ballot, not up.

Also, more companies are generous with telecommuting these days. Obviously there’s a downside to that—you are always on the clock via smart phone—but it’s something if you are sick.

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It’s not just that people are uninsured, it’s that even people with insurance will avoid treatment and reporting because they can’t afford the deductibles and co-pays. Frankly all of the insurance expansion schemes the “moderate democrats” are offering are ludicrous the the event of a pandemic. We will need Medicare for All on an emergency basis for all regardless of citizenship status.

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Some republicans will view this virus as a culling the heard event.
They think it will only happen to poor people. The homeless and prisoners are vulnerable. Also kids who are not home schooled by religious fantatics. Mega churches will go on line…

Appreciate your long memory. Strong unions and Keynesian economics built a strong middle class. We had it going for a while: a living wage, education, health care, holidays, vacations, sick days, etc. Then came neoliberal economics and free market fundamentalism, the rise of finance and the end of history. Thirty years in on that project, and this pandemic is about to reveal how part of our country is “first world,” and a whole lot more of it is “third world.”

I was talking about this possibility to a friend just the other day. He has more faith in our system than I do, so when I posited the question of postponing the election, he said, “Well, Bush established that couldn’t be done when it came up early during the Iraq War.” All I said in response was, “That was then.” He conceded the point.

Excellent point.

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