Businesses, workers divided over Massachusetts sick leave measure

Timothy  Chouinard, 39, was sitting on his porch having a drink and listening to music when two members of the Coalition for Social Justice started up the steps of the three-decker.

“I knew you guys were going to stop,” he said, before Joe DiMauro started his well-rehearsed spiel.

“Earned sick time is going to be on the ballot this coming November, Question No. 4. For every 30 hours a worker works, they earn an hour of sick time,” DiMauro began, as his vote
canvassing partner, Maria Fortes, looked on. “That would be . . . important, right?” he asked.

“Absolutely,” Chouinard said. “I work in a factory . . . right here in Fall River. I’m the typical person that you guys are working for right here.”

In fact, Chouinard said, he was out of work the day before because he sprained his ankle and his stepsons were ill — and the absence cost him a day’s pay, about $80 to $100. His wife, Noemi Borges, works at the same place and was out of work for two days because their boys were sick. She lost two days’ pay.

“So this bill would ensure that you do get paid for that day,” DiMauro said.

“I support this then. Hell, yeah,” Chouinard said.

The issue has also divided the candidates

Massachusetts voters will be asked to answer four questions on their ballots in November. The fourth asks if they approve of a proposed law that says Massachusetts employees would be able to earn sick time and use it to miss work if sick or caring for an ill child, parent, or spouse. Doctor’s appointments would be covered, as would the “psychological, physical, or legal effects of domestic violence,” according to the ballot question.

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