For 16 years, Congress ignored 2 lawmakers’ push for paid sick leave. Coronavirus is making their case

March 11, 2020, 12:38 PM UTC
Lawmakers Speak to The Media After Being Briefed By VP Pence On Coronavirus During Their Weekly Policy Luncheons
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 03: U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) speaks to the media following the weekly Democratic caucus luncheon where U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and members of the coronavirus task force briefed senators on March 3, 2020 in Washington, DC. Eight deaths due to coronavirus have been reported in Washington state. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)
Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Harvey Weinstein is getting sentenced, we go inside the collapse of Outdoor Voices, and lawmakers rush to pass paid sick leave legislation. Have a nice Wednesday. 

– Paid sick leave push. Five years ago, I wrote that the paid sick leave movement “was on a roll” as more U.S. states passed laws requiring employers to provide the benefit. If the idea had momentum then, it’s rocket-powered now, as the coronavirus outbreak puts in stark, urgent terms the need for a federal policy for paid sick days. A quarter of U.S. workers currently have no access to the benefit as the U.S. remains one of the few developed nations to not guarantee it.

Amid the outbreak, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that the sick stay home. That’s sound advice that’s harder to follow when staying home from work (or keeping a kid home from school) means missing a paycheck. People who contract COVID-19 and still go to work risk spreading the disease to others and exacerbating the outbreak.

Sen. Patty Murray (D–Wash.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D–Conn.) have repeatedly pushed a bill for paid sick leave; they first proposed it in 2004 and have reintroduced it in every Congress since. They put out revised legislation on Friday that would require all employers to offer paid sick leave and to provide workers with 14 additional paid sick days in the event of a public health emergency (like the current one), including cover for children’s school closures and a family member’s quarantine.

Murray and DeLauro’s past bills have not gotten far in Congress, but this one seems to stand more of a shot since President Donald Trump is reportedly considering relief for employees who must miss work as part of his response to the growing outbreak.

“No one should face the impossible choice of caring for their health or keeping their paycheck or job, especially when a sudden public health crisis occurs,” DeLauro said in a statement.

Some private firms like Darden Restaurants, McDonald’s, and Instacart have gotten the message in recent days, adopting more generous paid sick leave policies for workers.

Paid sick leave is often mentioned in the same breath as paid parental or family leave and can attract the ‘women’s issue’ label. That association is likely due to women carrying out more caregiving responsibilities in the U.S. and, as such, seeming to benefit more from such wage protections. But the coronavirus crisis has revealed in dramatic fashion the universal need for the policy, underscoring that it doesn’t just help the direct recipient, but aids public health as well. Yet it remains to be seen if Washington will answer this most dire call to action.

Claire Zillman

Today’s Broadsheet was produced by Emma Hinchliffe


- Inside Outdoor. What happened to Outdoor Voices? This story goes behind the scenes into the athleisure brand's trouble to retain seasoned retail executives, the ouster of founder and CEO Ty Haney, and some new concerns, including an instance of alleged pregnancy discrimination (the company declined to comment on that). Haney responded to the report on Instagram last night: "Because I stood up for myself, my vision, Team OV, and early investors I am no longer with the [c]ompany I started and am labeled ‘difficult’ and ‘mercurial.’"  New York Times

- Harvey's fate. Harvey Weinstein, the one-time movie mogul who was convicted of rape last month, will be sentenced on Wednesday. He was found guilty on Feb. 24 of two counts of sexual assault. The maximum combined sentence of the two convictions is 29 years. Guardian 

- Sanders spouse. The Cut profiles Jane Sanders, wife of Bernie. Their "romantic and political lives are arguably more intertwined than any other presidential hopeful pair of the last decade;" Jane got her first desk in Bernie's office when he was mayor of Burlington, Vermont, and later advised writer Connie Schultz to do the same in the office of her husband, Sen. Sherrod Brown, as "a symbol that she was there to work." The Cut

- Hiatus pays off. Minnesota Lynx star Maya Moore took a break from the WNBA to advocate for Jonathan Irons, imprisoned on a 50-year sentence in Missouri for a crime that took place when he was 16 and that had no corroborating witnesses, fingerprints, DNA, or blood evidence connecting him to it. A judge overturned the now-40-year-old's conviction on Monday. Moore will take another year off from her sport: "It feels like we are holding up that Final Four trophy, but there are still a couple of steps," she says. New York Times


- Endo fighter. Iowa Rep. Abby Finkenauer has become a voice in Congress for women who suffer from endometriosis. The 31-year-old congresswoman introduced the Endometriosis Caucus last week and revealed her own struggle with the disease. "This is one of my fights now. And this is going to be part of my story," she says. Glamour

- Dingell's district. The race between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders is playing out in the Michigan district represented by Rep. Debbie Dingell. She's staying "neutral," as she tells reporters, but the mix of precincts that went to Hillary Clinton by 90% in 2016 and those that voted for President Trump make the area of special interest during this primary and beyond. New York Times

- See you in court! In Texas, courts have long been dominated by male judges. But in Democratic primaries, voters have recently chosen women over men. "Democratic men won primary races for high court, courts of appeals or district courts only when they were uncontested or facing a male opponent," according to this report. With urban areas usually electing Democrats to the bench, the state's judgeships will likely include many more women soon. Texas Tribune


Ai-jen Poo: Protect caregivers from coronavirus New York Times

The race to replace the binary of men's and women's sports Wall Street Journal

The criminalization of the American midwife Longreads

Joyce Gordon, who broke the glasses ceiling on TV, dies at 90 New York Times


"I had two women colleagues in the race, and I did not feel right putting my thumb on the scale [that] in any way would harm their candidacy."

-Sen. Kamala Harris on why she waited to endorse Joe Biden

Read More

CEO DailyCFO DailyBroadsheetData SheetTerm Sheet