Supporters right after the vote in front of Eugene City Council chambers.

Something BIG happened in Eugene last night, and we think you’ll be as elated as we are about it. After many months of discussion and community input, the Eugene City Council voted 5 to 3 to pass a paid sick days ordinance that will apply to every person who works in Eugene, starting July 1, 2015.

It is hard to believe that in the United States in 2014 nearly 40 million people can’t take a single paid sick day off where they work because their employer doesn’t allow them to accrue sick time while they work.

Can you imagine?

In Eugene alone there are 25,000 people (just over half of private-sector workers) in this precarious position who risk losing needed pay (or even their job) if they call in sick.  Whether you have the flu, a cold, need to see your doctor for a routine appointment, have a sick kid, or want to take your own mother to the doctor (as we all do at some point!), we believe our workplaces and the economy in which they function should be better designed to make that possible.  When they are, our whole economy does better – including all the people who make it go.

Which is why we’re so very pleased that the Eugene City Council took action to end this problem.  At our core, Family Forward Oregon exists to ensure financial stability for women and families across Oregon (and, ultimately, our nation).  Paid sick days are an important piece of that puzzle, because it makes it easier for people to manage their own and their loved ones’ health without sacrificing their financial stability.

Here’s what Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy had to say about the momentous vote:

Sometimes in public service you have the opportunity to do something big, something that really advances the people and the community you serve.  For me, the paid sick time ordinance we voted to bring to Eugene is one of those things. When 25,000 of your constituents can’t take a single paid day off when they have the flu or their child needs to see a doctor, it’s time to act. I’m proud that we took this step forward and, frankly, hope it’s contagious! More people around Oregon and across our nation need paid sick time, and if we have helped their plight in the slightest, I am honored to have been part of it. I truly believe what is good for workers is good for business and good for our community.

This BIG step forward in Eugene is a sign that Oregonians and our elected leaders are ready to pass smart policies that make it possible for today’s families to meet the competing demands of work and non-work, especially caregiving.  The kind other countries have had in place for decades. The kind we’re fighting for every day.