Systemic Racism Behind Lack Of Paid Sick Time, Say Religious Leaders

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Rev. Laurie Eaton- ISAIAH

Rev. Laurie Eaton- ISAIAH

Mandatory paid sick time was voted down 10-3 by the Minneapolis City Council last week, and a group of religious leaders says that’s another example of systemic racism.

Rev. Laurie Eaton says systemic racism is “not individuals doing horrific acts of hatred and prejudice — but reasonable people who say our hands are tied because it’s just too difficult, it’s just too costly to change our system for those who are systemically, methodically left out of our fair economy.”

Eaton and other religious leaders who belong to ISAIAH commented outside city hall just before the paid sick time ordinance vote.

“This is what systemic racism looks like. Bemoaning the cost to businesses while ignoring the burden and the cost that is already being paid all the time by people of color,” said Eaton. “Minneapolis, we are better than that.”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says low-paid workers are most often the ones who do not get paid time off. A disproportionate number of those workers are black or hispanic.

Rev. Billy G. Russell compared the plight of low wage workers to the biblical story of Moses organizing the Israelis to march out of the pharaoh’s enslavement. “And I sound like Moses, something gotta happen,” Russell preached to the crowd.

Other religious leaders found other Old Testament reasons for supporting mandatory paid sick time. “The commandment to care for the sick and to not lose one’s wages because one is sick is a matter of basic decency found in every religious system for the past three thousand years,” said Rabbi Adam Latz.

Even though the paid sick time ordinance was voted down, it is likely to come up again next year. It may have more city council support then, if it is not paired with a controversial ordinance that also regulated employee scheduling.

Michael McIntee

Michael McIntee is a former network TV news executive with more than 30 years of broadcasting experience. He began his broadcasting career at the University of Minnesota's student radio station. He is an expert producer, writer, video editor who has a fondness for new technology but denies that he is a geek. More about Michael McIntee »

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