The failure of our corporate and political leaders to make sure every worker gets good health care is causing some unpleasant consequences – not just for them, but for all of us. Consequences like stomach flu.
Ill workers often spread illness. This is because millions of employees who deal directly with the public, as well as with co-workers, are not covered by paid sick leave policies. So, when they come down with something like stomach flu, they still tend to drag themselves to work rather than going to bed until they recover, for staying home means a loss of pay… or even loss of their jobs.
Low-wage workers, such as those in the restaurant industry, are particularly vulnerable and, since they handle food, particularly threatening. Nearly 80 percent of America's food service workers receive no paid sick leave, and researchers have found that about half of them go to work ill, because they fear losing their jobs if they don't. As a result, a study by the Centers for Disease Control finds that ill workers are causing as much as 80 percent of America's stomach flu outbreaks, which is one reason that CDC officials have declared our country's lack of paid sick leave to be a major public health threat.
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You'd think the industry itself would be horrified enough by this endangerment of its workforce and customers that it would either take the obvious curative step of providing the leave or of pushing, in the name of public safety, for a public sick-leave program. But, au contraire amigos, such huge and hugely profitable chains as McDonald's, Red Lobster, and Taco Bell not only fail to provide such sensible care for their employees, but have lobbied furiously against city and state efforts to require paid sick days.
All the top corporate executives, who never touch the food their chains serve, get paid sick leave. For them to deny it to workers is idiotic, shortsighted, and even more sickening than stomach flu.