ELIZABETH, NJ – Dozens of supporters of an ordinance requiring private sector employers to provide paid sick leave rallied in front of City Hall, October 29.

The ordinance, which is on Tuesday’s ballot, calls for private-sector employers to allow these employees to accrue sick time at the rate of one hour for each 30 hours worked. Employees who provide food service, child care, or home health care, or who work for employers with 10 or more employees would be entitled to 40 hours of paid sick leave annually. Other private-sector employees would be entitled to 24 hours. So far nine municipalities in New Jersey have passed the ordinance, covering 140,000 workers. If it passes in Elizabeth, another 20,000 workers will have paid sick time.

The rally was organized by several groups, Make the Road New Jersey, and two unions, SEIU and 32BJ. Phyllis Salowe-Kaye, director of New Jersey Citizen Action, and Marcia Marley, director of Blue Wave, both statewide public policy and lobbying organizations, came to lend their support.

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“This is a health issue, a women’s issue, a family issue,” said Salowe-Kaye. “It is a fairness issue.” 

Added Marley, “It is really a health issue. No one wants to eat contaminated food from a sick server.”

The rally’s goal was to raise awareness and to mobilize support. Said Rob Duffey, policy and communication director for New Jersey Working Families, “Our next step is making phone calls and knocking on doors.”

Rev. Ramon Collazzo opened the program, saying, “What we are asking is something very basic.”