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Labor Day: Barack Obama orders fed contractors to offer paid sick leave

In Boston, President Barack Obama backs key progressive sick leave movement.

President Obama (inset) is in Boston Monday for a Labor Day breakfast, where he wiReuters


A growing movement to force private companies to give workers paid sick days gets a big boost today in Boston from President Barack Obama.

With a presidential executive order -- that means Congressional okay is not needed -- Obama will make it mandatory that any firm with a federal contractor give their workers paid sick leave.

Obama’s Labor Day gift to workers willbenefit up to 300,000 federal workers, the Washington Post reported Monday.

RELATED:The best companies for paid sick leave.

Paid sick leave mandates are a centerpiece of the Democratic party’s progressive wing, led by politicians like Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

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The executive branch of the federal government, with Obama as boss, has the legal power to set the rules for the contracts it makes with private companies.

Progressives want paid sick leave to be the law of the land, something business-friendly forces in both the Republican and Democratic party oppose.

InNew York City, and statewide in Massachusetts, lawmakers have passed legislation that requires all private companies, whether they hold government contracts or not, to let workers accumulate up to 40 hours of sick leave annually.

RELATED:Paid sick leave law in Philly.

Obama’s executive order will get workers for federal contractors up to seven paid days, the Post reported.

The President will praise the Bay State’s groundbreaking sick leave law at the Greater Boston Labor Council’s annual breakfast.

The White has said that 44 million workers in the nation's private-sector -- roughly 40 percent of the non-governmeent work force -- don't get a single paid sick day.

Paid sick leave is one of the benefits labor unions fought hard for in America, and that movement for better working conditions, wages, and basic fairness is at the root of today's observance of Labor Day ih the United States.

"We are the only advanced country on Earth that doesn’t guarantee paid sick leave or paid maternity leave to our workers," the commander-in-chief lamented in his State of the Union address. "And that forces too many parents to make the gut-wrenching choice between a paycheck and a sick kid at home."

In January, Obama ordered that all federal government workers be allowed to take six weeks of paid sick leave to care for a new child or ill family members.

His latest gift to Big Labor will do little in the GOP-controlled Congress to advance worker-friendly bills to boost the federal minimum wage and do what Massachusetts has done with sick leave mandates, the Post reports.

Obama’s visit to Boston is expected to tie up traffic in the city through the noon hour. The breakfast at the Park Plaza hotel on Arlington Street starts at 8:30 a.m.

Air Force One lands at Logan airport at 10 a.m.; Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, will be there to greet the Democrat.

John A. Oswald is editor-at-large at Metro and can be found on Twitter@nyc_oz.
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