A Positive Labor Day Accomplishment on Paid Sick Leave

For a change, there’s actually a pro-labor accomplishment Americans can welcome on Labor Day (per Politico‘s Nick Gass):

President Barack Obama will issue an executive order Monday that requires federal contractors to grant at least seven days of paid sick leave to their employees, including 300,000 who had none.

Obama is set to address the order during a Labor Day speech at a Boston breakfast and rally, where he will also call on Congress to extend paid leave to millions more Americans by passing the Healthy Families Act, which would mandate that all employers with more than 15 employees would have to grant at least seven sick days annually. In addition, Obama will point to Massachusetts as an example of a state that has passed similar sick leave laws, calling on other cities and states to do the same.

The order will not actually take effect until 2017, at which time a newly elected Republican president would almost certainly include it in a very large batch of policies to be repealed. Thus paid sick leave for the employees of federal contractors may be added to the stakes of the 2016 elections.

Paid family and medical leave, BTW, is one of five initiatives to help working people that Jonathan Cohn recommends in a fine Labor Day piece at HuffPost. The other four are a higher minimum wage; “card check” to make union organizing easier; extension of the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion to the 20 “hold-out” states; and extension of the Earned Income Tax Credit to childless low-income workers.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.