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Readers' Letters: City should handle sick days responsibly

I am very disappointed that Portland Commissioners Dan Saltzman and Amanda Fritz (all of them, really) aren’t moving ahead aggressively to solve our city’s very obvious problem without a paid sick days policy, but instead are passing the buck to the state (City may toss sick pay issue to state, Dec. 6).

Frankly, we don’t have time to wait for them.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has already announced an early and strong 2012-13 flu season, and in my children’s Portland Public Schools elementary school last week, we experienced a scarily rapid spread of a stomach flu (possibly norovirus). It was so contagious eight kids were sent home on one day and multiple kids came home with their clothes wrapped in plastic bags because peers had thrown up on them — in class!

Kids were throwing up into garbage cans in the front office. The school secretary is wearing a mask to protect herself.

For parents who can’t afford to take time off unpaid (or who might get fired for doing so), this is a real community conundrum that very clearly affects our entire community, especially our kids.

Public health events like this happen because contagious people who should be home, away from others, aren’t. And often that’s because they can’t afford not to work.

My message to my elected commissioners is this: take responsible action here, now, for our kids and for community health. The state can’t help soon enough.

Kelly Burke

Southeast Portland

Abuse of sick days should not stop city

Personally, I’m all for the idea of a paid sick leave law on the books (City may toss sick pay issue to state, Dec. 6). I feel that it promotes the idea that it’s better to stay home and get better than come to work and infect everyone else.

However, as was pointed out in the article, it can be abused. A solution used at my company is that (ailing employees) call in daily and that three days requires a doctor’s note.

A policy at my wife’s company is similar except for a two-day requirement vs. three-day.

Both help to rein in the problem. So does watching employee trends.

Aaron Timm

St. Helens

Portland can fix sick pay issue

As an employee at a grocery store, I know that many of my colleagues come to work sick because they can’t afford to lose pay (Keep politics out of sick leave policy, Nov. 22).

This writer exaggerates how a paid sick days policy would affect Portland and seems to want to scare people, when really we would all be better off — especially our customers — if we had such a policy citywide. When I handle food and interact with customers on the job, I should be healthy, not contagious.It’s just not that complicated, even though this person makes it sound that way.

The simple fact is that every one of us gets sick once in a while when we’re scheduled to work, and when we do, we all need a way to recover without having to lose pay that many can’t afford to go without. Some employers in Portland provide workers the ability to earn paid sick leave while they work, but a lot don’t.

A shocking 80 percent of low-wage workers — those who can least afford to miss the pay — and 40 percent of all private-sector workers in our country don’t earn even one day of paid sick leave. I think it’s time to fix that, and Portland is the kind of city to understand that — and solve it.

Susan Lund

Southeast Portland

Replace Metro levy with delinquent taxes

Metro wants to place a five-year levy on the ballot to maintain its natural areas. This would raise about $10 million annually.

However, there are $1.2 billion delinquent in property taxes in Multnomah County alone. Metro gets about 1 percent in Multnomah County. Why can’t they change Oregon law to allow the more expeditious collection of this delinquent amount and pay for many needs with the amount collected?

Gordon Hillesland

Southeast Portland