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What do firms have against workplace health?

The article “Calls rising for paid sick days” (Page A1, April 15) quoted John Regan, executive vice president at Associated Industries of Massachusetts, as saying, “Our members are . . . saying, ‘Let me run my business.’ ” The Globe summarized that sentiment as considering “a sick-pay mandate” to be “another unwarranted intrusion by government into the private sector.” Why do the group and its members so often consider public protection measures as government intrusions? Why do they regularly oppose measures for labor rights, chemical safety, environmental health, and quality protections?

Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, mentioned his members’ burdens from the Massachusetts health reform, warning that “we need to be wary of broad-brush new mandates.” Paid sick leave as part of work compensation started in the 1920s and ’30s. It isn’t new.

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In 2007, the Institute for Health and Social Policy reported that “at least 145 countries provide paid sick days for short- or long-term illnesses.” These are normal provisions of modern industrial economies. More industry leaders should join us in creating a high-end economic model based on fairly sharing the wealth and caring for the sick among us.

Craig Slatin


The writer is a professor in the department of community health and sustainability at University of Massachusetts Lowell.

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