You can’t sleep. It hurts to swallow, your bones ache, and you’re alternating between night sweats and chills. In the morning, you’ve got a decision to make: Either you call in sick, or you suck it up, stumble off to work, and risk getting worse.

Whatever you decide will have consequences, on your own health, the health of those around you, and perhaps on your ability to hold your job. If it’s a sick child you're faced with, the decision can be agonizing, especially if your employer is not the sympathetic sort.

Thankfully, most members of Teamsters Local 117 when faced with an illness have earned sick days’ protections in their collective bargaining agreements. Local 117 members with sick days in their contracts know that, if they come down with the flu or need to care for a sick child, they will not risk losing their job, and they will not be penalized through lost wages.

But 41% of workers nationwide, including 41,000 people who live in the City of Tacoma, are not so lucky. When these workers get sick, they are faced with an awful choice. Either they send their kid to school sick or go to work sick themselves, or they lose a day’s wages, or their job.

Childcare workers, caretakers of the elderly, restaurant workers, and grocery workers frequently do not have earned sick leave. When someone with the flu has to fix your deli sandwich, take care of your child, or clean up your hospital room so they won’t get fired, the impact on public health is profound.

Earned sick leave builds family economic security, protects public health, lowers health care costs, and creates healthier workplaces. It prevents the spread of food-borne disease, and boosts employee productivity and morale.

Labor unions are teaming up with small businesses, health care providers, and faith-based and community groups in a nationwide effort to pass paid sick leave for workers in cities across the U.S.

Teamsters Local 117 was part of the coalition that helped pass an earned sick days’ ordinance for workers in Seattle that took effect in September 2012. Local 117 also supported a bill, which eventually stalled in the State Legislature, that would have guaranteed earned sick days to most working people in the State of Washington.

Now your Union is on the front lines in the fight to win earned sick days for workers in the City of Tacoma. On Thursday, May 30, members of Local 117 will attend the campaign kickoff event at IBEW Local 76.

The campaign is organized by Healthy Tacoma, a coalition of labor, small businesses, and faith groups that understands the value of earned sick days to working families. The campaign has already collected over a thousand postcards that will be presented to the City Council later this summer.

Washington DC, Portland, Milwaukee, San Francisco, and Seattle have all passed earned sick leave ordinances.

Join Teamsters Local 117 in the fight to win earned sick days’ protections for all Tacoma workers. To support the effort to win earned sick days for Tacoma workers, you can:

  • Sign a postcard in support of earned sick days;
  • Share your story about how having or not having earned sick days has impacted you and your family;
  • Volunteer for the earned sick days’ campaign.

For more information, visit or contact Brenda Wiest at 206-441-4860 ext. 1256.