Maine small business owners call earned paid sick days bill a ‘no brainer’

Members of the Maine Small Business Coalition (MSBC) endorsed Sen. Rebecca Millett’s earned paid sick days bill at a State House press conference today and pushed back against a Republican proposal to cut nearly 200,000 Maine workers from the proposed protections. 

“The Republican proposal, written by lobbyists for large corporations, would discriminate against hundreds of thousands of Mainers, forcing them to make the impossible choice of going to work sick or missing a paycheck,” said Adam Zuckerman, director of MSBC.

A new report released by the MSBC, in coordination with the Main Street Alliance, shows that in cities and states, from Washington D.C. to Vermont, that have established earned paid sick days policies, the policies spurred business creation and job growth. Overall, the data shows that paid sick policies have led to more productive economies, not closed doors. 

Small business owners who are members of the MSBC advocated for Sen. Rebecca Millett’s original bill, LD 369, which was voted out of the Labor and Housing Committee last week, and against any more compromises.    

“I was raised by a single mom. Paid sick time is one of those no brainers,” said Gale White, co-owner of Lubec Brewing Company. “No one should ever be put in a position to choose between coming to work sick or losing their job.”

Husband and wife co-owners of Lubec Brewing Company Gale White and McGinley Jones speaking at the press conference. | Cara DeRose

Small business owners who are members of the MSBC advocated for Millet’s bill, which was voted out of the Labor and Housing Committee last week, and against any more compromises. 

“We have been able to attract, foster, and retain those employees because we value them,” said  Jim Amaral, owner of Borealis Breads in Wells and Waldoboro. “It doesn’t make sense for me to force a sick baker to come to work and sneeze all over our bread.”

“Small-business owners like me know first-hand that providing paid sick days is not only the right thing to do, it is a smart business decision,” said Mary Callahan, owner of Kimball Street Studios in Lewiston, who explained that undervaluing workers, especially in Maine’s tight labor market, inevitably leads to higher, costlier turnover. 

Laurie Osher, owner and founder of Osher Environment Systems in Orono, which has under five employees, called offering earned paid sick days “a win-win”for Maine workers and small businesses. She echoed Callahan’s point about turnover, saying that “finding, hiring and training new employees costs my business tens of thousands of dollars.” Valuing her workers, and giving them earned paid time for when they need to recover from illness, costs far less. 

“It’s not smart business to treat workers as disposable,” she said.

(Top photo: MSBC Director Adam Zuckerman introducing speakers, left to right, Jim Amaral, Laurie Osher, Gale White, and McGinley Jones. Not pictured: Mary Callaghan. | Cara DeRose)

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