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Maine Sneezes campaign

As someone who's only just starting to recover from a week of consumptive coughing, and whose office currently sounds like "a TB ward" (the words of my editor), I am sympathetic to the statewide LD1454 campaign, promoting the Paid Sick Days Bill.

I don't know what I would have done if staying home last week would have meant either: a) being fired, or b) not being able to pay my rent. But for lots of low-wage workers, in Maine and nationwide, staying in bed and watching Veronica Mars isn't an option -- for fear of pissing off their employer, or losing a whole day's wages.

And that sucks not just for the sick waitress, or cashier, but for the consumers who come into contact with them, and for their co-workers, who run an increased risk of getting sick. (Case-in-point: My TB-ward of an office.)

That's why a coalition of labor and social justice organizations, including the Maine Women's Lobby, the Maine State Nurses Association, and the Maine AFL-CIO launched the Maine Sneezes campaign, complete with three eye-catching ads that highlight the grossness of sick food-service workers. (My favorite shows an image of a menu board, advertising specials such as "Strep Steak" with "a small sneezer salad.")

The campaign is aimed at publicizing the Act to Care for Working Families, which passed through the Labor Committee last fall, and which the state House could take up as early as next week. The bill would require companies that employ 25 or more workers to offer five paid sick days to their employees. Business organizations aren't too keen on the idea. Stay tuned. And remember to sneeze in your sleeve.

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