The fight for the protections has made its way to the Michigan Court of Appeals.
A decision has yet to be made, but Local 4 spoke to one of the groups behind the push for earned paid sick time, and they are encouraged.
“I know what it feels like to make $7.50 an hour, to be a single mom, and my son is in the ICU, and I had not a single drop of sick time,” said Director of Organizing Mothering Justice, Aisha Wells.
From that struggle came a promise and action, which is why Wells left her old job to advocate for mothers like herself. Her 16-year-old son Alex is disabled. He’s doing well now, but that wasn’t always the case.
“To hear that there would be sick time for me, just a few days, was exciting,” Wells said.
The relief that would have come in 2018 from the Earned Sick Time Act and minimum wage increase never did. It had more than 400 thousand signatures and support from the Republican-led legislature, but the measures were changed once enacted, proponents say weakening them significantly.
“We just survived, and some of us did not due to a pandemic,” Wells said. “Just think about what would’ve happened if we would have had sick time for folks? If folks would have been able to just sit at home, heal up, feel better and then go back to work.”
As the case goes through the courts, Wells says, lives continue to hang in the balance.
“I hear from them,” Wells said. “I couldn’t take off because my kid was sick. I lost money in my paycheck because I had to stay at home with my kid. Every person that wakes up in the morning at four or six and 8 a.m., gets themselves and their kids dressed and out the door, and gets to the job deserves the ability to take care of themselves.”
The Michigan Court of Appeals heard arguments Monday (Dec. 13). If judges side with the ruling from July, the minimum wage will go up to $13.03 an hour on Feb. 19, 2023, and any company with 10 or more employees would be required to provide workers with paid sick time.