May 26, 2011; Source: Hartford Courant | In what could be a historic decision, Connecticut may be getting ready to pass legislation that would mandate sick days for service workers in workplaces that have more than 50 workers. The Bill has passed the Senate in an 18 – 17 vote. It’s almost inconceivable that this would be the first such law in the country. Senate President Donald Williams, a Democrat said that mandatory paid sick days would be a workplace victory, taking its rightful place alongside the eight-hour workday and the end of child labor. "These are laws we think of when we think of a civilized society," he said.

But to get it past the senate, two groups of organizations were exempted from the bill, manufacturing and – confoundingly – nationally chartered nonprofits. This appears to have been the work of a YMCA which claimed it would break them to offer their employees paid sick days. One Senator said he would have had serious misgivings about the bill without that exemption because he had been approached by the Soundville Family YMCA in Branford which feared cutting programs or staff if they had to conform. Presumably the workers they are talking about would be working with children and seniors and disabled populations among others so it makes sense that the community would want them to come to work – sick or not. Right?

Gov. Daniel P. Malloy will sign the board if it is approved by the House of Representatives. "I applaud the 18 senators who voted for this bill…This piece of legislation is a reasonable compromise that represents good public policy.  It exempts industries where appropriate, it ensures that the benefit won't be abused, and most importantly, it protects public health.  It shouldn't be the case that people who are frontline service workers – people who serve us food, who care for our children, and who work in hospitals, for example – are forced to go to work sick to keep their jobs.  It's my hope that the House of Representatives will take up this piece of legislation, pass it, and I can sign it into law."

Guess what, YMCA! You are so on the wrong side of this issue. – Ruth McCambridge