Stories of sick day solidarity.
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We’re in Brooklyn this week.
We’re here to share the holidays with family, but Christmas picked one hell of a week. New York is the epicenter of the nation’s Omicron virus.
We are scheduled to fly back to Chicago tomorrow, but thousands of flights have been canceled because of crew shortages due to illness.
He points his finger directly at Bill de Blasio’s “malignant indifference.”
After sharing Jonathan’s outrage, I called him to see how he’s doing and so far there’s no sign of Covid. He tells me it will be four to six days to get his test results.
Just in time to return to work.
It seems a worker in an Italian factory near Milan was suffering from a debilitating illness two years short of his retirement age.
All his colleagues contributed accumulated sick days so he could retire immediately.
It reminded me of my own experience as president of a small teacher union local.
Our contract guaranteed us sick days which if they went unused could be carried over and accumulated.
We bargained well and the number of sick days we got each year was generous.
I was never a fan of sick days instead of salary. If unused, they cost the district nothing. They reported it to the community as a part of the cost of the agreement.
Women teachers who were pregnant had to use their sick days for the birth of their babies, which in my mind was clearly gender discrimination.
A teacher who got seriously ill and ran out of sick days was just out of luck.
Which is what happened.
One time when it did happen some teachers volunteered to give up some of their own sick days to help.
I was moved by the generosity and show of solidarity, but as union president I had reservations about the idea. To me it seemed too dependent on personal connections and relationships. A teacher with lots of friends among the teaching staff might get extra days, but another might not.
My union proposed a sick day bank. Each teacher could give up one day. A teacher in need could apply. A committee of administration and union would oversee the bank and the applications. If the bank ran low, teachers could give up another day.
It worked and as far as I know it still does.
A lingering question for me is this.
Why does anyone in this rich nation need to depend on the mercy and generosity of co-workers to get by when they get sick or are in need?
Why isn’t it considered a right guaranteed to all?