Not runnin’ on Dunkin’: Beacon Hill protest takes aim at unpaid sick leave

"Wake up and smell the donuts."

A protest at the Dunkin’ Donuts across from the State House Thursday drew hundreds of people advocating for more paid sick time.

The Massachusetts Paid Leave Coalition, along with Sen. Dan Wolf and Rep. Kay Khan, filed legislation last week that would ensure sick leave for one million Massachusetts workers who don’t currently have access to it.

“As a Personal Care Attendant, I care a lot about my job and the people I care for. Unfortunately, sometimes I am faced with the dilemma of what to do when I get sick,” said Latoya Johnson, a Boston resident who turned up to today’s protest.

Organizers said they chose to protest at Dunkin’ Donuts because it does not provide paid sick time to its employees. A spokeswoman for the company told Metro: “Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants are owned and operated by individual franchisees who are responsible for making their own business decisions such as hours of operation, employee wages and the benefits they offer their employees including sick leave and vacation time. They are required to comply with all state, federal and local laws.”

A May 2012 study by the Institute for Women’s Policy Research revealed that earned sick time would save Massachusetts about of $74 million annually with substantial benefits for employees, employers, and public health.

“It’s smart economics to make sure that working people can afford to stay home when they or a loved one are sick without fear of falling behind on bills or losing their job,” Wolf said.

In the midst of the worst flu season in a decade that has resulted in 18 deaths in Massachusetts alone, organizers of today’s protest said the urgent need for earned sick time and its immediate public health benefits are clear.

The Center for Disease Control estimates that 7 million Americans were infected by co-workers who went to work sick during the 2009 H1N1 “Swine Flu” outbreak.



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