Union News Daily

Elizabeth Voters Approve Paid Sick Leave At The Polls

Union News Daily — Wednesday, November 4, 2015

By: Patrick Bober – Regional Editor

ELIZABETH — Voters responded overwhelmingly positive to pass a ballot question calling for mandatory paid sick time off for part-time employees of both public and private businesses in Elizabeth. The city will be the 10th municipality in New Jersey to have such a law on the books.

By a margin of 3,037 to 563, voters adopted the ballot measure to create an "ordinance to add a new chapter to the ordinances of Elizabeth to promote the overall health and safety of the residents and workers of the City of Elizabeth by reducing the spread of communicable disease and contagion by requiring a policy of paid sick leave for workers in Elizabeth," according to the wording of the initiative.

The interpretative statement listed on the ballot read as follows:

The ordinance would require private-sector employers to allow their employees to accrue paid sick leave at a rate of 1 hour for each 30 hours worked. Employees who provide food service, child care, or home health care, or who work for employers with ten or more employees would be entitled to up to 40 hours of paid sick leave each year. Other private-sector employees would be entitled to up to 24 hours of paid sick leave each year.

The passage of the ballot measure was likely causing celebrations among some Elizabeth residents who recently held a candlelight vigil in front of city hall in support of the measure.

In a release, the group said "Elizabeth mothers, community leaders and grassroots supporters" held the vigil to raise awareness about the local initiative. Many in the group put together a petition with more than the required 1,500 signatures needed to put the measure to a vote.

"If my child gets sick, I need to know that taking a day to care for him won't cost me my job or the pay I need to buy him medicine and put food in his mouth," said Ana Hodges in the release. Hodges, the release says, was one of the first five to sign the petition.

According to the group, nine of the country's 17 earned sick times laws can be found in New Jersey, including in Jersey City, Newark, Passaic, East Orange, Paterson, Irvington, Montclair, Trenton, and Bloomfield. Montclair's and Trenton's laws were also approved by ballot measures. Elizabeth is now the 1oth in the state.

"Nearly everyone in New Jersey supports paid sick days because paid sick days support everyone," said Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, executive director of New Jersey Citizen Action and a spokesperson for the New Jersey Time to Care Coalition. "We're working hard to let Elizabeth voters know that they have the opportunity to protect working families and the public health while strengthening their local economy by voting 'yes' on Tuesday's public question."

Staff Writer Peter Fiorilla contributed to this story

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